H'wood bookmarks 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 peaked 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.

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."

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 find more new content than at the biggest book fair in the world?"

The book fair closed Sunday.