Apr 04 2012

“We were a bunch of young dreamers”

Published by at 01:55 under Samsa

SOURCE: http://www.wort.lu

Behind the Scenes at Samsa Film

In 2011 Samsa Film celebrated its 25th anniversary, with some 70 films co-produced by Samsa over the years, an impressive number by any standards.

Co-founder and producer Jani Thiltges sat down with wort.lu/en to discuss current and future projects, what goes into the brand and its films.

It all started with six youngsters wanting to make films in the Grand Duchy. “We were just a bunch of young dreamers,” says Thiltges of the beginnings of Samsa. Of the original founders, Claude Waringo still forms part of the production company.

The others, Paul Thiltges, Paul Kieffer, Christian Kmiotek and Frank Feitler, have moved on to found other production companies, to direct, act, and teach, in film and theatre.

The first project, to adapt Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, never came into being, but it gave the company its name and logo, after the ill-fated Gregor Samsa who turns into a bug and is abandoned by his family. Luckily, Samsa Film fared better than its namesake.

“We learned by falling down. We fell many times, but never so badly that we couldn’t get back up again,” says Thiltges. Three wins at this year’s Luxembourg Film Prize stand to show the company’s success.

The producer as mediator between audience and artist



Claude Waringo, Beryl Koltz and Jani Thiltges (l.t.r.) at the premiere of Hot Hot Hot, which went on to win the 2012 Lëtzebuerger Filmpräis for best feature film
Photo: Laurent Blum

In the meantime, Samsa Film has gone from strength to strength, with many fond memories from the journey. “Being in Venice with Une Liaison Pornographique was a highlight. We were young and didn’t really know what we had in our hands. Being in Berlin with Irina Palm and the buzz surrounding the film was special. Walking up the steps in Cannes for the first time,” all these are milestones in a successful and busy career.

As a producer Thiltges is responsible for securing funding and getting a film made, “but it goes beyond that.” Thiltges is a mediator between the audience and the artist making sure all elements come together. “We work on the team, the film itself, the packaging. The producer is there right until the end, when you head to the festivals, when the film is released.”

So far, most Luxembourg films are co-productions, with Samsa Film being the main producer in around a third of its films overall. Promoting Luxembourgish talent remains one of the company’s priorities, for example through short and documentary film productions. Examples are Beryl Koltz’s Hot Hot Hot, the upcoming Doudege Wénkel by Christophe Wagner and Paul Kieffer’s Eise Neie Mann.

What next then, after 25 successful years?



Minister François Biltgen visiting the set of Fils unique in 2010
Photo: Gerry Huberty

The anniversary year 2011 “was a really good year,” says Thiltges. “There are some films which are really exceptional. Doudege Wénkel (Blindspot) in my opinion is the best Luxembourg film made to date. I’m looking forward to releasing it in September. I think that it will work; a political thriller, set in Luxembourg with Luxembourgish actors.”

Also in the works for 2012 will be Nos Enfants by Joaquim Lafosse, Quartier Libre by Frédéric Fonteyne, and Les Adorés starring Laetitia Casta and Benoît Poelvoorde. “Three films of which I really think they will have their place.”

Samsa has also managed to nab Jean Dujardin, fresh off the The Artist rollercoaster, and his latest project Möbius, a spy thriller also starring Cécile De France. Another film in planning is a project by Irina Palm director Sam Garbarski, starring Patricia Arquette.

Most exciting for Luxembourg film fans might be At Swim-Two-Birds, Brendan Gleeson’s directorial debut to be shot in Luxembourg over the summer, starring Colin Farrell and Michael Fassbender, who is enjoying new-found Hollywood fame for projects such as X-Men: First Class, Shame and the much anticipated Prometheus.

A film lover at heart

Thiltges taking home the Eurimages European Film Award in 2009
Photo: Samsa Film

A lot has changed in the Luxembourg film landscape in a quarter of a century, but Jani Thiltges seems to have lost none of his enthusiasm and passion for the trade. Like any other cinéphile, he finds that he doesn’t watch nearly enough films.

“I’m very open in what I like, from French auteur movies to American genre films.” Directors like Ingmar Bergman, James Gray, and Andrej Tarkowski are among his favourites, as well as American films of the 1960s and early ’70s, “a moment where cinema exploded, where it had something to say.”

Producers such as Daniel Toscan de Plantier, Saul Senz, Claude Berri and Bernd Eichinger provide inspiration to Thiltges, but “being on the inside, the industry looks a bit less mysterious.”

Here’s hoping that there will be enough mystery for many years to come to keep Thiltges going in his work to keep making national and international film a fixture in Luxembourg.

Comments

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SOURCE: http://www.wort.lu

Behind the Scenes at Samsa Film

In 2011 Samsa Film celebrated its 25th anniversary, with some 70 films co-produced by Samsa over the years, an impressive number by any standards.

Co-founder and producer Jani Thiltges sat down with wort.lu/en to discuss current and future projects, what goes into the brand and its films.

It all started with six youngsters wanting to make films in the Grand Duchy. “We were just a bunch of young dreamers,” says Thiltges of the beginnings of Samsa. Of the original founders, Claude Waringo still forms part of the production company.

The others, Paul Thiltges, Paul Kieffer, Christian Kmiotek and Frank Feitler, have moved on to found other production companies, to direct, act, and teach, in film and theatre.

The first project, to adapt Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, never came into being, but it gave the company its name and logo, after the ill-fated Gregor Samsa who turns into a bug and is abandoned by his family. Luckily, Samsa Film fared better than its namesake.

“We learned by falling down. We fell many times, but never so badly that we couldn’t get back up again,” says Thiltges. Three wins at this year’s Luxembourg Film Prize stand to show the company’s success.

The producer as mediator between audience and artist



Claude Waringo, Beryl Koltz and Jani Thiltges (l.t.r.) at the premiere of Hot Hot Hot, which went on to win the 2012 Lëtzebuerger Filmpräis for best feature film
Photo: Laurent Blum

In the meantime, Samsa Film has gone from strength to strength, with many fond memories from the journey. “Being in Venice with Une Liaison Pornographique was a highlight. We were young and didn’t really know what we had in our hands. Being in Berlin with Irina Palm and the buzz surrounding the film was special. Walking up the steps in Cannes for the first time,” all these are milestones in a successful and busy career.

As a producer Thiltges is responsible for securing funding and getting a film made, “but it goes beyond that.” Thiltges is a mediator between the audience and the artist making sure all elements come together. “We work on the team, the film itself, the packaging. The producer is there right until the end, when you head to the festivals, when the film is released.”

So far, most Luxembourg films are co-productions, with Samsa Film being the main producer in around a third of its films overall. Promoting Luxembourgish talent remains one of the company’s priorities, for example through short and documentary film productions. Examples are Beryl Koltz’s Hot Hot Hot, the upcoming Doudege Wénkel by Christophe Wagner and Paul Kieffer’s Eise Neie Mann.

What next then, after 25 successful years?



Minister François Biltgen visiting the set of Fils unique in 2010
Photo: Gerry Huberty

The anniversary year 2011 “was a really good year,” says Thiltges. “There are some films which are really exceptional. Doudege Wénkel (Blindspot) in my opinion is the best Luxembourg film made to date. I’m looking forward to releasing it in September. I think that it will work; a political thriller, set in Luxembourg with Luxembourgish actors.”

Also in the works for 2012 will be Nos Enfants by Joaquim Lafosse, Quartier Libre by Frédéric Fonteyne, and Les Adorés starring Laetitia Casta and Benoît Poelvoorde. “Three films of which I really think they will have their place.”

Samsa has also managed to nab Jean Dujardin, fresh off the The Artist rollercoaster, and his latest project Möbius, a spy thriller also starring Cécile De France. Another film in planning is a project by Irina Palm director Sam Garbarski, starring Patricia Arquette.

Most exciting for Luxembourg film fans might be At Swim-Two-Birds, Brendan Gleeson’s directorial debut to be shot in Luxembourg over the summer, starring Colin Farrell and Michael Fassbender, who is enjoying new-found Hollywood fame for projects such as X-Men: First Class, Shame and the much anticipated Prometheus.

A film lover at heart

Thiltges taking home the Eurimages European Film Award in 2009
Photo: Samsa Film

A lot has changed in the Luxembourg film landscape in a quarter of a century, but Jani Thiltges seems to have lost none of his enthusiasm and passion for the trade. Like any other cinéphile, he finds that he doesn’t watch nearly enough films.

“I’m very open in what I like, from French auteur movies to American genre films.” Directors like Ingmar Bergman, James Gray, and Andrej Tarkowski are among his favourites, as well as American films of the 1960s and early ’70s, “a moment where cinema exploded, where it had something to say.”

Producers such as Daniel Toscan de Plantier, Saul Senz, Claude Berri and Bernd Eichinger provide inspiration to Thiltges, but “being on the inside, the industry looks a bit less mysterious.”

Here’s hoping that there will be enough mystery for many years to come to keep Thiltges going in his work to keep making national and international film a fixture in Luxembourg.

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