Back in 1994, producer Stefan Arndt together with filmmakers Wolfgang Becker, Dani Levy and Tom Tykwer founded X- Filme Creative Pool in Berlin. Their mission: to produce sophisticated art house films for the general audience. Modeling their company after United Artists, they brought together producers and filmmakers under one creative roof, much like UA did in 1919 when Charles Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith created one of the first true film studios.
That role model seemed to work for X Filme, for today the company’s portfolio includes some of of the most successful movies of recent German cinema, including the international hits Run Lola Run by Tykwer and Good Bye Lenin by Becker, as well as Tykwer’s Heaven, Levi’s Silent Night and Go for Zucker, Becker’s Life is All You Get and Dresden’s Summer in Berlin.
Last spring, the company took home Cannes’ top prize, the Palme d’Or, with its production of Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon, a German, Austrian, French co-production set in 1913 Germany. The drama makes its North American bow at the upcoming Toronto Film Festival.
At last winter’s Berlinale, X-Filme continued its long association with the festival with its Panorama entry The Countess by actress turned filmmaker Julie Delpy. The Countess is Delpy’s second feature, following her successful 2007 comedy Two Days in Paris. As with Two Days, Delpy wrote, directed, produced, starred in and even composed the music for The Countess (for Two Days, she was also the editor), the gruesome and mysterious story Hungarian Countess Erzebet Bathory, who was rumored to have bathed in virgin blood to preserve her youth.
Apart from its busy production arm, X-Filme also runs a successful distribution company, X-Verleih (X-Distribution). To accommodate such expansion, the company recently moved into an elegant fin-de-siecle mansion bordering central Berlin’s famous Einstein Café. It was there that we met Andreas Dobers, X Filme’s head of marketing and post-production for X Verleih & X Filme.
Dobers’ brief tour of the building included a visit to the state-of-the-art screening facilities, where a final edit of The Countess was screening, as well as the company soccer-table and X-Films own singing elk, which Dobers dutifully demonstrated by joining along in song (see accompanying video). It was a fitting touch for such a cutting-edge company, whose secret of success seems to lie in cleverly combining elements of culture, commerce and caprice into a surprisingly diverse and popular menu of movies.