'Basterds' Oscar noms boost Babelsberg

Quentin Tarantino shot his film at the 98-year-old studio

POTSDAM, Germany -- The Babelsberg film studio was bursting with pride Wednesday after Quentin Tarantino's anti-Nazi farce "Inglourious Basterds," filmed here last year, got eight Oscar nominations.

Carl Woebcken, CEO of the world's oldest large-scale studio complex, said the record haul should give the 98-year-old film site an important shot in the arm as an international production center and help erase memories of some difficult decades.

"We're all ecstatic," Woebcken told a group of foreign journalists after a tour of the historic studio just south of Berlin. "That a film made in Babelsberg got so many Oscar nominations is something noticed around the world."

Tarantino's $70 million film, a violent and darkly comic revenge fantasy, got eight nominations from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, including best director for Tarantino and best supporting actor for Christoph Waltz.

"He's having an incredible run," said Christoph Fisser, chairman of Studio Babelsberg AG and friend of Waltz who also co-produced "Inglourious Basterds." "I always thought he was a great actor but a year ago he wasn't even a star in Germany.

"Then with this one film he turns into a mega star around the world. Directors all want him now. It's an incredible story. It's a dream. But Christoph is a realist and while savoring it he's also looking at it all with a critical distance."

Babelsberg, one of the world's most important studios in the 1920s and a rival to Hollywood, was created in 1912. Its reputation was tarnished by the Nazis and later Communist East Germany who used it to make propaganda films.

Marlene Dietrich was part of an exodus from Babelsberg, fleeing Germany for Hollywood after making "The Blue Angel."

After German unification in 1990, Babelsberg went through a painful reorganization and only gradually re-emerged as one of Europe's leading film studios. The creation of the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF) in 2007 was a further boon.

Hollywood and European filmmakers qualify for DFFF grants, worth up to 20% of a film's budget, if enough of it is spent in Germany. That has accelerated a trend since the turn of the century for more international films in Babelsberg.

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International films such as "The Pianist," "The Bourne Supremacy," "Valkyrie," "The Reader" were made at Babelsberg in recent years. Roman Polanski's latest film "The Ghost Writer," which will debut at the Berlin International Film Festival, was made here.

Another recent Babelsberg film won the best foreign-language film Oscar in 2008, "The Counterfeiters." Studio officials said Babelsberg movies have received Oscar nominations five times since 2003 and the last three years in a row.
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