Mickey Rourke Joins Michael Jai White, Gillian White, and James Russo In
The Cast of Christian Sesma Martial Arts Action Film
*EFM Pre-Sales Underway From 101 Films International Suite 115 Marriott in Berlin
Berlin, Germany February 21, 2020—Producer/actor Mike Hatton’s production shingle, Ton of Hats, Inc. has announced final casting and start of production on director Christian Sesma’s (VIGILANTE DIARIES) TAKE BACK, a martial-arts action saga starring Mickey Rourke (THE WRESTLER); Michael Jai White (BLOOD AND BONE, THE DARK KNIGHT); Gillian White (NEVER BACK DOWN: NO SURRENDER; Days of our Lives)—making their first film appearance together—and James Russo (DJANGO UNCHAINED). Hatton and Sesma just completed production on the Val Kilmer actioner PAY DIRT, shot in the desert over the holidays through pickups this past week.
In TAKE BACK, penned by Zachary Zerries in his feature film-penning debut, Sara (Gillian White) and Brian (Michael Jai White) are living a seemingly perfect life when a mysterious man (Rourke) from Sara’s past kidnaps their teenage daughter. With the help of a small-town sheriff (Russo), the couple races to save their daughter before she’s sold and vanishes into the sex trade.
“The film will shed some light on human trafficking–a cause Michael and I are both passionate about fighting,” says Gillian White. Indeed, a small genre of films have sprung up addressing the topic, such as 2017’s TRAFFICKED, starring Ashley Judd, Anne Archer and Patrick Duffy. Sesma adds, “we’re incredibly stoked to have this cast—Mickey and Michael are legends, and this promises to establish Gillian White as the next African- American martial arts heroine.”
Ton of Hats CEO Mike Hatton, who is best known for his co-starring role in last year’s Academy Award-winning film, Green Book, will serve as lead on producing the project alongside Michael Walker and Andy Lyon of 101 Films International, the foreign sales agents for the film.
Tom Conigliaro of Eastlake Films serves as Executive Producer, along with Rourke, Russo, The Whites, and manager/producer Kimberly Hines.
101 Films International has started sales at EFM, located at Suite 115, first floor at the Berlin Marriott. Early interest in the title is reported strong.
TAKE BACK is set to go before the cameras in April.
Ton of Hats has just wrapped production on Pay Dirt, a crime-heist action comedy written, directed and produced by Sesma starring Hatton and Val Kilmer, shot in Coachella and also selling at EFM, and is in pre-production on a 10 Double Zero, a crime action thriller starring Nicolas Cage scheduled to begin production in late Spring 2020.
(Source: Press release provided by Henry Eshelman, Platform Media Group)
30 years ago, the European Film Market (EFM) celebrated its premiere as an international trade market for films at the 38th Berlin International Film Festival. Today, the EFM is one of the most important film markets worldwide. It has become considerably more than just an industry get-together and distribution point: Starting with the digital transformation, the EFM began strategically opening up to new market participants, business fields, products and distribution paths. In recent years the EFM has increasingly positioned itself as a place for innovation and change in the film trade – without losing sight of its core business as a marketplace offering high-quality content. Its numerous platforms provide the film industry with trendsetting impulses that effectively strengthen its position as one of the most important international transfer points for moving pictures. The exhibition spaces for the upcoming EFM of the 68th Berlin International Film Festival at Martin-Gropius-Bau and the Marriott Hotel are already fully booked. More than 9,000 exhibitors, license traders, producers, buyers and investors are expected to attend the event over the course of nine market days from February 15 – 23, 2018.
“The industry is still in the midst of change. The digital transformation is not yet complete and new possibilities for film that are worth a closer look are constantly opening up. With its platforms and different formats, the EFM provides participants with the tools to meet the contemporary challenges of the business.”
President and founder of the EFM Beki Probst comments on the anniversary: “When the EFM began in 1988, it was clear that the Berlinale wanted to create a meeting point for the industry and that our planned format of a European Film Market would work. We never imagined that the EFM would become one of the most important film markets worldwide, reflecting the movements and pioneering spirit of the film industry in an incomparably diverse way. In all modesty: The EFM is a success story and has consistently been one for 30 years.”
Berlinale Director Dieter Kosslick congratulates Beki Probst on 30 years of successful work: “Without Beki Probst and her contacts worldwide, her charm and cosmopolitan gift for combining business and culture, the EFM would never have become such a successful platform and the strong backbone of the festival.”
In its anniversary year, Canada will be the “Country in Focus” at the EFM. Canada’s successful film industry will present itself comprehensively and highlight special aspects of Canadian filmmaking.
The 67th Berlin International Film Festival culminated with the presentation of the awards on Saturday, February 18. (See list of prize winner)
Over eleven days, the Berlinale drew movie fans and the international film industry to cinemas and a large variety of events. Its reputation as the world’s biggest public festival was reconfirmed: a total of 334,471 tickets were sold. And with more than 7,000 visitors, the program of the Berlinale Open House in the Audi Berlinale Lounge – with its Berlinale Lounge Nights and a variety of other events – was a crowd-puller.
Not only the Berlinale but also the European Film Market (EFM) can look back at a successful edition. With 9,550 trade professionals from 108 countries at 192 stands, the EFM once again recorded a significant increase in participants this year. It was gratifying to observe the huge crowds at many different new EFM initiatives. The “Berlinale Africa Hub”, which debuted this year, achieved its goal of providing African film-making with an exceptionally attractive platform. Events within the framework of the “EFM Horizon presented by Audi” initiative, which focussed on the film industry of the future, were very popular as well.
In its third round, the expanded “Drama Series Days” again registered a rise in attendance. And with Mexico, the very first “Country in Focus” at the EFM also proved a resounding success.
Once more, the Berlinale’s activities for refugees were received with great enthusiasm: the Berlin International Film Festival had urged visitors to make donations for the traumatized children and adolescents at Zentrum ÜBERLEBEN. With the 17,574 euro (on Feb 20, 2017) collected, the center will be able to provide its young patients with additional social and psychological support, as well as recreational activities.
About 1,400 people participated in a “movie mentoring” project in which volunteers from Berlin’s non-profit refugee aid organizations accompanied refugees to Berlinale screenings.
The 68th Berlin International Film Festival will be held from February 15 to 25, 2018.
“EFM Horizon presented by Audi”: Virtual Reality, Computer Games, Startups, New Technologies and Innovations at the European Film Market
The film industry of the future, with the newest technological developments, trends that provide a glimpse of things to come and evolving business models, is the focus of a total of five innovative events united under the newly created label “EFM Horizon” and made possible with the support of Audi. The platform, which encompasses the formats “Propellor | Speednic”, “EFM Startups”, “VR NOW Con Business Mixer”, “Game & Cinema” and “The Next Level of Cinema”, simultaneously aims to offer EFM trade visitors opportunities for networking with members of adjacent sectors of the audio-visual industry, such as tech, virtual reality and games.
“Game & Cinema”
Friday, February 10, 2017, 7:30pm to 9:30pm
MGB Kino (Niederkirchnerstr. 7, 10963 Berlin)
The local multiplayer event “Game & Cinema” combines cinema and computer games in a shared gaming experience that plays out on the big screen. The event format is produced by Booster Space and was presented for the first time at the International Games Week in Berlin. Trade guests from the film market can experience the world of gaming together with an audience of gaming fans within the cinema context and discover potential new uses for cinemas in the process.
Monday, February 13, 10am to 12:30pm
Berliner Freiheit (Berliner Freiheit 2, 10785 Berlin)
The successful “EFM Startups” initiative, which brings the film industry together with thought leaders and mavericks from the tech scene, is continuing under the umbrella of “EFM Horizon presented by Audi”. Ten select startups from Germany, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Spain will present new technologies for production, distribution and marketing to EFM trade visitors. Pre-arranged one-on-one meetings with potential partners are intended to serve to pave the way for possible co-operations. “EFM PopUp Offices” in the atrium of the Martin-Gropius-Bau will be made available for use by the attending startups.
“EFM Startups” is made possible with the support of Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg.
The participants at “EFM Startups” 2017:
Mobisol Group (Germany)
Native Studios Creace (Germany)
PICL (The Netherlands)
SPHERIE by SpiceVR (Germany)
Virtelio by realab (Luxembourg)
“VR NOW Con Business Mixer”
Monday, February 13, 4pm to 7pm
Berliner Freiheit (Berliner Freiheit 2, 10785 Berlin)
Everyone is talking about virtual reality – and the film industry is no exception. At the same time, there is a lot of uncertainty about how these new technologies of VR, AR, MR, and 360° can be used in the film business, which technologies make sense, what costs they bring with them, etc. In talks, presentations and discussions, the “VR NOW Con Business Mixer” – a conference and networking event – addresses the most current impulses and trends in the sector and brings virtual reality pioneers and experts together with members of the film industry. At the same time, participants also have the opportunity to test diverse VR technologies.
The event is organized in co-operation with Virtual Reality e.V. Berlin-Brandenburg and made possible with the support of Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg.
“The Next Level of Cinema”
Tuesday, February 14, 11am to 1pm
Audi Berlinale Lounge (Marlene-Dietrich-Platz 1, 10785 Berlin)
Leading companies and creatives provide interested distributors, sales agents, producers, exhibitors and cinema operators with insight into the challenges facing the film industry of the future. Special emphasis is placed here on the topics of digitization and innovation. After taking a look at brief case studies, there will be opportunities for discussion with and among participants.
Included among the guests expected to attend are representatives from Audi, IBM (Watson), Dolby (Atmos) and filmmakers such as David O’Reilly and Thomas Wallner.
“Propellor | Speednic”
Tuesday, February 14, 2:30pm to 4:30pm
Rooftop Café (Potsdamer Platz 1, 10785 Berlin)
The question of the film industry of the future and how the branch can best work to actively shape its own development by employing forward-thinking concepts and innovations is at the centre of the first “Propellor | Speednic”, a closed networking and workshop event in Berlin. 24 select participants – twelve of them from the film industry and twelve from the technology sector – will discuss how we can develop and implement new sales, distribution and marketing models together as well as how we can learn from success stories from other branches.
In the tenth year of their existence, the “EFM Industry Debates” (February 10 to 12) will once again bring together high-calibre international experts to discuss current topics of interest, trends and perspectives for the rapidly changing film industry. The first panel discussion addresses the question to what extent digital distribution can be advantageous, in particular for independent film producers. The second debate focuses on the film industry in the Arab world and its challenges and potential. Finally, the significance and necessity of innovations in the field of film sales and marketing will be treated within the scope of the third debate.
The event is being presented for the sixth time by the IFA, the leading global trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances, the official host of the “EFM Industry Debates”.
The discussion series is organized in co-operation with the international trade magazines Screen International, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. The “EFM Industry Debates” will take place on Friday, February 10; Saturday, February 11 and Sunday, February 12, from 4.00 to 5.00 pm at the Gropius Mirror Restaurant. Friday, Feb 10, 2017, 4.00–5.00 pm
Online Distribution: Promise and Reality In co-operation with The Hollywood Reporter
Online distribution promises to be the savior of the independent production industry, providing a long-tail global audience for even the most niche art house films and TV productions.
But how does the promise of online distribution match up to the reality? How can independent producers best use the Internet to both finance productions and recoup on their investment? And how can an indie producer or director assess the real value of their films on the global market?
Moderation: Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter Saturday, Feb 11, 2017, 4.00-5.00 pm
New Prospects: Challenges and Opportunities in the Arab Film Industry In co-operation with Variety
The Arab world is growing significantly as a market and producer of films. But growth has been uneven, with screens and investment increasing in areas like the Gulf but lagging in countries such as Egypt. Meanwhile, Arab producers and directors face creative and commercial challenges as pay-TV and SVOD gain ground. What are the region’s prospects? The panel will present fresh data on Arab cinema and discuss how best to navigate a growing but tricky market.
Moderation: Nick Vivarelli, Variety
Sunday, Feb 12, 2017, 4.00-5.00 pm
Market Innovation 2017: How To Get Things Moving? In co-operation with Screen International
With its new “EFM Horizon” platform, the EFM offers various initiatives focusing on the film industry of the future. “EFM Horizon” sets out to help discover the latest technological developments and forward-looking trends and to take advantage of networks in sectors bordering the audio-visual industry. The panel introduces entrepreneurs with strategies that will shape the future in distribution and marketing of films and potentially attract new audiences. The new “Propellor Film Tech Hub,” of which EFM is a founding partner, is setting up an incubator program for the development of new distribution and marketing prototypes, and will present its strategy for 2017 and 2018.
Moderation: Wendy Mitchell, contributing editor at Screen International.
Admission to the “EFM Industry Debates” is free of charge for owners of the market badge. The “EFM Industry Debates” will be followed every day by a networking cocktail hour.
Program / Series Events for Berlinale Market Attendees at Legendary Zoo Palast
The “Drama Series Days”, a joint initiative for series content co-organized by the industry platforms European Film Market, Berlinale Co-Production Market and Berlinale Talents, are set to celebrate their third annual edition this year. Building on the great success of the previous years, a third day has been added to the program for 2017, which runs from February 13 to the 15.
The new venue for the panel discussions and market screenings, which are offered by the European Film Market, is Berlin’s legendary Zoo Palast cinema, which will be transformed this year into the premiere meeting place for series content for members of the industry. “CoPro Series”, the pitching session organized by the Berlinale Co-Production Market, will also take place there.
The “Drama Series Days” are a vibrant, specialized platform, which invites filmmakers, buyers, salespeople, producers, editors and financiers of high quality drama series to come together to share their knowledge and ideas and present new series content.
“CoPro Series” creates an active space for networking and exchange between the film and series industries. At this event, the registered participants – producers and financiers from the pool of the Berlinale Co-Production Market – and the “Drama Series Days” industry guests have the opportunity to get to know the series’ creators and producers at the Networking Get-Together after the pitching session, where they can learn more about the pitched content. In previously arranged one-on-one meetings, participants can also engage in concrete talks with the aim of developing potential partnerships.
A portion of the “Drama Series Days” program for 2017 is already confirmed:
“CoPro Series” 2017: Seven International Series Projects Pitching Their Content and Searching for Partners
On February 15 the Berlinale Co-Production Market is inviting producers, television representatives, distributors and further series financiers for the third time to the exclusive series pitching session “CoPro Series”, which will be taking place for the first time this year at the new venue for the “Drama Series Days”, the fabled Zoo Palast cinema.
Seven select series projects will be on the lookout for co-production and financing partners here among the industry guests. The productions include for instance Cognition, a crime thriller concept from director Alex Garcia Lopez (Misfits, Utopia), which is being produced by companies from the United Kingdom and the USA. The team behind the French series Trepalium, which gained positive attention last year from critics and series audiences alike in France and Germany, will be presenting their new project Metro, a historical thriller set in the days of the first efforts to construct the subway system in Paris.
In the Austrian-German crime project Freud, the psychoanalytical skills of the titular hero are needed in the race to catch a serial killer. German author and director Till Kleinert’s Hausen on the other hand, a project produced in Bulgaria, combines elements of the mystery, horror and drama genres in a story set in a run-down high-rise estate.
The Belgian crime series Omerta, whose characters must constantly walk a fine line between trust and betrayal, is also searching for partners at the event – and the same goes for the drama series State of Happiness, in which a small Norwegian city gets caught up unexpectedly in the oil boom.
A further project will be presented in co-operation with the renowned Paris-based series festival and co-production forum “Series Mania”: the series Warrior, featured at the Paris festival’s 2016 edition and directed by Christoffer Boe, who has previously made a name for himself primarily as a feature film director (Reconstruction; Offscreen; Sex, Drugs & Taxation), has also been invited to Berlin. As in previous years, one of the six other series presented at “CoPro Series” will once again have the opportunity to meet additional potential partners at “Series Mania” in April.
The main partners for the Berlinale Co-Production Market (February 12 to 15, 2017) are the MDM – Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung and Creative Europe – MEDIA, a program of the European Union.
The Networking Get-Together at “CoPro Series” at the Zoo Palast cinema is being held in co-operation with the Norwegian Film Institute.
Projects selected to participate at “CoPro Series” 2017 (in alphabetical order by production company):
Freud (Bavaria Fernsehproduktion & Satel Film), Germany & Austria
Cognition (Catalyst Global Media & A Better Tomorrow Films), United Kingdom & USA
Omerta (Caviar), Belgium
Metro (Kelija), France
State of Happiness (Maipo Film), Norway
Hausen (Tanuki Films), Bulgaria
Project in co-operation with “Series Mania”:
Warrior (Miso Film), Denmark
EFM: 20 Series from Around the World in Market Screenings, Successful Industry Get-Together for the International Series Scene To Be Expanded with New Conference Program
20 new series from Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Denmark, France, Island, Israel, Canada, The Netherlands, Sweden and the USA will be presented to series buyers from February 13 to 15 in the market cinemas at Berlin’s Zoo Palast. They feature a broad spectrum of subjects and demonstrate a high level of quality, as attendees of the event have come to expect. With established market players such as Global Screen, Red Arrow, Studio Canal, eOne, DR, Keshet, Lagardère, Sony TV, ITV, Dutch Features and TV Globo and producers like Vimeo and Left Bank Pictures on board, the specialist audience will be treated to a wide range of content.
For the first time, a multifaceted conference program will take place on February 13 and 14 at Zoo Palast, where the newest trends and developments – from forecasted shifts in genre popularity to new European funding options – will be presented and discussed by experts in the field.
The program is only accessible for accredited industry attendees in possession of a Market Badge and will consist of the following events:
Monday, February 13
1.00 pm Opening of “Drama Series Days”
1.30 pm “How to Make Your Series Go Global? Co-Production, Financing and Distribution Strategies for Binge-worthy TV” in co-operation with Film- und Medienstiftung NRW and The Hollywood Reporter
2.30 pm “New Frontiers: Creating Original Content in Mexico and Latin America” in co-operation with IMCINE
3.30 pm “European Series Funding At a Glance”
Tuesday, February 14
1.00 pm “Berlin on Screen: Zeitgeist in Serial Drama” supported by Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg
2:00 pm “Spotlight UFA: High-End Drama for the International Market” in co-operation with UFA Fiction
3:00 pm “Pay TV Expanding: What to Expect?” in co-operation with HBO Europe and C21
Official partner for “Drama Series Days” 2017 at the European Film Market is the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW; the platform is organised in co-operation with HBO Europe and made possible with the support of Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg.
“Drama Series Days” @ Berlinale Talents
In addition, on Monday, February 13 (from 2:30 pm to 5:00 pm at HAU Hebbel am Ufer 3), Berlinale Talents will present and discuss the production conditions for the spy series Berlin Station in a detailed case study with numerous members of the German crew in attendance. The series from the USA was shot entirely on location in Berlin last year.
The full program for the “Drama Series Days”, including all scheduled screenings, will be made public on January 31.
In addition to the “Drama Series Days”, series content will also be featured once again in the festival program of the Berlinale: in the framework of the Berlinale Special Series, a hand-picked selection of high-quality series will be shown again this year at Haus der Berliner Festspiele.
Thanks to the support of the German Federal Foreign Office, for the first time the 2017 Berlinale will provide a platform for innovative projects and ideas from the African film industry. The “Berlinale Africa Hub” is an initiative of the European Film Market (EFM) in cooperation with the World Cinema Fund (and the special programme it created in 2016, WCF Africa, which promotes films from Sub-Saharan Africa with the support of the German Federal Foreign Office), with Berlinale Talents (and its sister programme Talents Durban, which supports talented African filmmakers throughout the year), and with the Berlinale Co-Production Market.
As Festival Director Dieter Kosslick says, “The Berlinale has long-standing relationships with numerous African filmmakers, and has fostered the film industry in Africa in a variety of ways. Now, due to the support of the German Federal Foreign Office, with the ‘Berlinale Africa Hub’ we can substantially intensify that commitment. The new platform at the European Film Market will bring the next generation of African filmmakers to Berlin and offer an international forum for current technology, ideas, and developments in the African film industry”.
EFM Director Matthijs Wouter Knol says, “Apart from functioning as a place for African filmmakers to meet up with the international film industry, the ‘Berlinale Africa Hub’ is focused first and foremost on changes in the industry triggered by innovations and technology. Numerous talented African filmmakers and creatives are increasingly using the newest technology to create their content, giving African audiences access to original African content”.
The “Berlinale Africa Hub” is a communication and networking platform for the African film industry and all EFM participants who want to know more about new distribution and marketing models, and virtual reality and 360° projects by African filmmakers and producers, about successful start-ups that are bringing audio-visual content to the African market, and about African VOD and SVOD platforms that have emerged in the last few years.
As part of the Hub, there will be networking events, featuring discussions of the most important issues in sales, distribution, marketing, project packaging, co-production, subsidies, and talent development in the African industry.
Among the participants and partners of the “Berlinale Africa Hub” are companies like the non-profit organization Electric South from Cape Town, the pan-African online platform Mokolo, Rushlake Media from Cologne, and the Goethe-Institut.
Electric South provides funding, mentoring, training, and start-up help for digital storytelling – for African audio-visual projects of any kind, from long or short films to documentaries, interactive productions, virtual reality, or mobile content.
The pan-African online platform Mokolo, headquartered in Lagos, is directed both at audiences and at professionals in the AV and IT industries. It offers distribution, information, and networking possibilities.
Cologne’s Rushlake Media (RLM) is a film sales and distribution company focused on digital content and the African market. RLM supports producers, rights holders and institutions with successful marketing strategies in the changing film distribution landscape.
The Goethe-Institut is the co-producer of Electric South’s virtual reality initiative New Dimensions, and was instrumental in launching the Mokolo web portal in 2011.
The “Berlinale Africa Hub” will be headquartered in Gropius Park, the new compound that surrounds the historical Martin Gropius Bau, the main venue for the EFM.
The European Film Market (EFM) at the Berlin International Film Festival is considered one of the most important trade platforms for film rights and audiovisual content.
As the first industry gathering of the year, the EFM will open its doors on February 9, 2017, setting the trends for the upcoming year in film. The entire exhibition spaces, in the Martin-Gropius-Bau and the Marriott Hotel, are already fully reserved. More than 9,000 exhibitors, license traders, producers, buyers and investors are expected over the nine market days from February 9 to 17, 2017.
This year, the European Film Market has expanded in both space and content. New initiatives such as the “Berlinale Africa Hub” and “EFM Horizon” provide forward-looking impetuses. The immensely popular “Drama Series Days”, presented by the EFM and the Berlinale Co-Production Market, has been expanded and moved into a new venue. The three-day edition of the segment will run from February 13 to 15 in the Zoo Palast, with panel discussions, market screenings and various networking events. The official partner of the “Drama Series Days” is the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW; it is mounted in cooperation with HBO Europe and the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg. And at the 2017 EFM, Mexico will be the first “Country in Focus” – a new EFM initiative that the market plans to follow through with in upcoming years with different countries.
“The European Film Market is one of the most important film markets world-wide and, since it’s at the start of the year, it’s a key seismograph for the year to come. The EFM is a trend-setter that keeps abreast of the radical changes in the industry”, says EFM director Matthijs Wouter Knol.
“There has rarely been as much movement and such a sense of euphoria in the film industry as there is now. We’re responding to that with our broad range of initiatives. At the same time, it’s extremely important that we provide optimal surroundings that offer dependability and stability in terms of infrastructure and content”, adds EFM president Beki Probst.