CineAsia to fete Fortissimo duo


The co-chairmen of Fortissimo Films, who for the past 17 years have helped to focus world attention on Asian cinema, will receive the Award of Excellence at the annual CineAsia convention in December in Macau.

"It is a great honor to be able to single out Michael J. Werner and Wouter Barendrecht for their significant achievements in the development, financing, co-production, promotion and distribution of award-winning films globally, including Asia, at this year's CineAsia," Mitch Neuhauser, CineAsia's co-managing director, said Tuesday.

Fortissimo, the Hong Kong and Amsterdam-based international film development and sales company founded by Barendrecht in 1991, is responsible for shepherding to international success such films as Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai's "Chungking Express" and "In the Mood for Love."

Before Fortissimo, Dutch-born Barendrecht worked as a programmer for the Rotterdam Film Festival and a press officer for the Berlin Film Festival's International Forum. Barendrecht also has guided such titles as "Heavy," "Super Size Me" and "Shortbus" to international success.

Barendrecht has served on film festival juries at Berlin, Sarajevo, Edinburgh, Sydney and Jerusalem and was the director of the inaugural Hong Kong — Asia Film Financing Forum.

Co-chairman Werner has nearly 30 years of experience in international film sales and consulting, with much of that time spent in the Asia-Pacific region. He joined Fortissimo as a consultant in 1995 and in 2000 became a partner. With a previous focus on big commercial films, he handled international sales on such titles as "Die Hard With a Vengeance," "Talk Radio" and "Evita."

Werner's consulting clients have included 20th Century Fox International, IBM, PolyGram Films and the Sunshine Group, organizers of CineAsia. In 2006, he became a member of the executive branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Fortissimo also has offices in London, New York, Sydney and Paris and agents in the U.S., Europe, Tokyo, Beijing and the Middle East.

CineAsia, which celebrates its 13th edition this year, will be held in the Macau Special Administrative Region of south China for the first time from Dec. 4-6. The convention is produced and managed by the Nielsen Film Group, a division of Nielsen Business Media and the parent company of The Hollywood Reporter.