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Karl Baumgartner

Film producer

Film producer

Born: January 3, 1949; Died: March 18, 2014

Karl Baumgartner, who has died aged 65, was a film producer who pioneered the idea of making feature films with money raised from numerous different sources in numerous different countries. One of his most recent films was the offbeat drama Only Lovers Left Alive, in which Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston play vampires who have been around for so long that they have become rather disillusioned with the world.

Such films were once dismissed as Europuddings, but the mechanism has now become standard practice, and Baumgartner was a master at securing cash from distributors and film agencies, tapping into subsidies and incentives and exploiting tax credits.

His powers of persuasion helped several of Europe's most distinguished - though not most commercial - directors to get their films made. His credits as producer include Emir Kusturica's Black Cat, White Cat (1998), Leos Carax's Pola X (1999), Sandra Nettelbeck's Mostly Martha (2001) and the Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki's Le Havre (2011).

Baumgartner would go to great lengths to back projects in which he believed. He pulled together support from backers in no fewer than eight different countries for Bakhtyar Khudojnazarov's 1999 comedy-drama Luna Papa. He planned to go on location in Tajikistan, had his plans disrupted by civil war, finally built a village in which to shoot the film, saw it swept away by floods and had to be rescued by the Red Cross.

The film in which a young Tajik girl becomes pregnant by an actor in a travelling show, after he claims to be a friend of Tom Cruise and promises to make her a star, went on to win a host of awards at festivals around the world.

Baumgartner was born in Bruneck in a largely German-speaking area of South Tyrol, in northern Italy, in 1949. He moved to Frankfurt in the 1970s and he founded Pandora Film in 1982 with his partner Reinhard Brundig.

Initially they specialised in distributing arthouse films, but they became increasingly involved in production in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Pandora Filmproduktion made more than 100 films between 1988 and 2014. Baumgartner was one of the producers of Kusturica's 1995 Cannes Palme d'Or winner Underground.

Known to friends, colleagues and acquaintances as Baumi, Baumgartner was a familiar figure on the film festival circuit; he regularly attended markets and industry events and it is only a few months since he was presented with a major award, the Berlinale Camera, at the Berlin Film Festival for his services to the industry and his contributions to the festival.

The trade paper Screen International said his attendance at an event was regarded as a seal of approval and described him as an inspiration to a generation of young producers.

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