Hollywood bookmarks Frankfurt


FRANKFURT -- Coming to the Frankfurt Book Fair straight from international TV market MIPCOM can be a bit of a shock.

First there is the size of the thing. MIPCOM set a new record this year, with more than 13,000 attendees. In Frankfurt, the world's largest book fair, which began Wednesday, 50,000-60,000 industry professionals from more than 7,000 companies storm through the doors every day. On Saturday, when the German public is allowed in, the numbers peak at near 75,000.

And they aren't all tweedy librarians and culture snobs. Google and Electronic Arts have stands right alongside publishing giants such as Random House and HarperCollins.

Even the film business, while still a tiny part of the Frankfurt fair, is making its presence felt. The market's Film & TV forum, tucked away in one of the fair's smaller halls, this year boasted some impressive names, including Focus Features, BBC Films and German indie powerhouse the Tele Munchen Group.

Focus and BBC Films were here to shop for adaptation rights. Focus found a hidden jewel, optioning "Wie der Soldat das Grammofon repariert," (How the soldier repaired the gramophone) a German-language novel on the Bosnia war from refugee-turned-author Sasa Stanisic.

While Ed Victor and other star literary agents are sheltered away in a high-security, appointment-only section of the fair, the Film & TV Forum caters to the independents, matching European publishers with producers hungry for new material.

"It's been very good to see what's out there, even rights for classics where you wondered why hasn't that been made into a movie? You get a chance to get to know the publishers and develop a relationship," said Ronald Kruschak of Studio Hamburg, whose most recent literary adaptation, "The Three Investigators," hits German theaters this fall.

For Tele Munchen, the book fair's film section proved an ideal platform for cross-promotion. The company erected a one-theater version of its Cinemaxx multiplex at the fair, and screened recent literary adaptations including "Becoming Jane," "Stardust" and Tele Munchen's in-house production of the modern German classic "A Runaway Horse."

Tele Munchen then flew in the author of "A Runaway Horse," Martin Walser, to be interviewed by TV personality Thomas Gottschalk. Gottschalk is not only one of the best-known German entertainers, he is also the face of Tele Munchen's new campaign for its niche TV channel, Tele 5.

The films presented and promoted at the book fair criss-crossed genres -- from Pascale Ferran's sexy "Lady Chatterley" to the trashy fantasy of Uwe Boll's latest, "Dungeon Siege." The latter, inspired by a video game, somewhat stretched the definition of "literary" adaptation.

But the film highlight of this year's book fair came Friday night, when U.K. director Michael Winterbottom won this year's best literary adaptation prize for "A Mighty Heart." Based on the autobiographical story by French journalist Mariane Pearl, and starring Angelina Jolie, "Heart" has been almost universally praised by German critics for its cinematic rendering of the book's complex political issues.

"The film and book businesses are two different worlds and our forum here has been slow to catch on," said organizer Katharina Werdnik. "But we're growing fast -- doubling attendance every year. People are starting to realize that all the different media – film, TV, book, mobile, Internet -- are just different ways of transporting content. And where can you find more new content than at the biggest book fair in the world?"

The book fair closed Sunday.