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Canadian folk singer Leonard Cohen dies aged 82

Canadian folk singer Leonard Cohen has passed away at the age of 82. Cohen was also an acclaimed poet and novelist whose work explored politics, religion and sexuality. Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen has died at the age of 82, according to a statement on his Facebook page on Friday: "It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away. We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries," the statement read. "A memorial will take place in Los Angeles at a later date. The family requests privacy during their time of grief." Cohen told the New Yorker recently: "I am ready to die. I hope it’s not too uncomfortable. That’s about it for me." Known for intense lyrics with subjects ranging from love and hate to spirituality and depression, Cohen had a deep singing voice and was accompanied by distinctive guitar patterns. His career began in the 1960s and continued until this year with his 14th and final album "You Want it Darker." Tributes pour in As news broke of Cohen's passing, musicians and writers took to social media to honor the late musician. Canada's prime minister, Justin Trudeau, issued a statement Friday mourning the Montreal-born singer-songwriter: "Leonard, no other artist's poetry and music felt or sounded quite like yours. We'll miss you." Cohen, Trudeau said, would be "fondly remembered for his gruff vocals, his self-deprecating humor and the haunting lyrics that made his songs the perennial favorite of so many generations." Quebec to New York Born in Quebec in 1934, he learned guitar as a teenager and formed a folk group. But after reading Spanish writer Federico Garcia Lorca he turned toward poetry. He graduated from McGill University and moved to the Greek island of Hydra where he wrote three collections of poems. In 1966 he moved to New York and met folk singer Judy Collins who recorded two of his songs, including "Suzanne" on an album she released that year. He met Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground, and German singer Nico. His "Songs of Leonard Cohen" released in 1967 were presented and sung in a similar style to Nico's. Cohen wrote more songs for Collins and also for James Taylor, Willie Nelson and others. More albums followed and in the 1970s he began the first of his many long tours around the US and to Europe. His best-known song "Hallelujah" was included on an album which Columbia Records declined to release in 1984 and it was not until Jeff Buckley recorded it in 1994 that the song came to light. Cohen also wrote and performed comedy. His first comic novel "The Favorite Game" was published in 1963 and the DVD "Ladies and Gentlemen: Mr Leonard Cohen" shows him performing as a stand-up comic. Buddhist monk In 1995 he halted his career to enter the Mount Baldy Zen Center near Los Angeles where he became an ordained Buddhist monk, taking on the Dharma name Jikan which means "silence" although he never abandoned Judaism. He released more songs in 2001 and 2004 before suspicions grew that his longtime manager, Kelley Lynch, was embezzling funds from his retirement account. Robbed of $5 million (4.6 million euros) Cohen started to perform again to recover his finances. From 2008 until 2010 he performed 247 concerts around the world. He recorded two more albums, in 2012 and 2014, ahead of "You Want it Darker" in October, 2016. Cohen said he appreciated his resilience and capacity to continue: "It means a lot more at this age than it did when I was 30, when I took it for granted."

Canadian folk singer Leonard Cohen has passed away at the age of 82. Cohen was also an acclaimed poet and novelist whose work explored politics, religion and sexuality. Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen has died at the age of 82, according to a statement on his Facebook page on Friday: “It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter ... Read More »

Survivors return as Sting reopens Bataclan concert hall in Paris

Scores of traumatized survivors have revisited the reopened Bataclan concert hall in Paris, one year after terrorists killed 90 at a rock concert. British singer Sting told the crowd that "nothing comes from violence." British singer Sting led a minute's silence at Saturday's concert for the 130 people killed in coordinated attacks across Paris on November 13, 2015, in a renovated Bataclan concert hall smelling of fresh paint. His first song "Fragile" saw many guests weep, but Sing soon brought the crowd to its feet, clapping and stamping to his hit "Message in a Bottle." "Nothing comes from violence and nothing will," said Sting, referring to last year's attacks claimed by the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) group. Guests who were able to get tickets underwent extensive body searches and barricades to reach the packed hall. Some survivors stayed outside the Bataclan in a quiet vigil. Others such as Aurelien, who only gave his first name, went inside, saying he was determined to have a good night. "There's an obligation to be here, because there are 90 people who can't come anymore," he told the Agence France-Presse, referring to those killed at the concert hall. "I'm drinking my beer and I'm hoping to have a good time," he added, saying that he kept "getting flashbacks of that night." Georges Salines, who lost his 28-year-old daughter Lola at the Bataclan, said the concert was "almost a taking back of the space for music and fun from the forces of death." Another survivor, Mariesha Jack Payne, said she traveled from Scotland to Paris' Barometer bar, where she had sheltered during the attack. "Even if I'm not inside [the Bataclan], it's symbolic for me to be here nearby," she said. Proceeds will go to survivors Sting, 65, who played at the Bataclan back in 1979 as the lead singer of The Police, said the proceeds from Saturday's concert would go to two charities helping survivors. More than 1,700 people have been officially recognized as victims of the horror that unfolded at the Bataclan, cafés and France's national stadium. Nine survivors remain hospitalized, while others were paralyzed or suffered life-changing injuries. The Bataclan will remain closed on Sunday's anniversary of the attacks, when President Francois Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo are scheduled to unveil plagues at the half-dozen sites where revelers were murdered. 'Threat remains' In remarks to several European newspapers on Saturday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned that the "heavy and constant threat" of more terror attacks hung over France. "Yes, terrorism will strike us again," he said, but stressed that "we have all the resources to resist and all the strength to win." Concerts at the Bataclan resume next Wednesday with performances by British singer Pete Doherty, Senegalese star Youssou N'Dour and British singer Marianne Faithfull.

Scores of traumatized survivors have revisited the reopened Bataclan concert hall in Paris, one year after terrorists killed 90 at a rock concert. British singer Sting told the crowd that “nothing comes from violence.” British singer Sting led a minute’s silence at Saturday’s concert for the 130 people killed in coordinated attacks across Paris on November 13, 2015, in a ... Read More »

Swedish Academy member describes Bob Dylan’s Nobel silence as ‘impolite and arrogant’

Bob Dylan's silence since being named a Nobel laureate has been described as "impolite and arrogant" by a member of the Swedish Academy. But the committee said it was up to the singer if he decided to accept. The Swedish Academy, which selects Nobel Prize winners, has failed to contact 75-year-old singer-songwriter Bob Dylan since he became the first musician to win the literature prize in the Nobel's 115-year history last week. Dylan has been silent on the subject since he was awarded the honor for "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition." The award has been mentioned on Dylan's Twitter and Facebook accounts, but a mention was removed from his website on Friday. On Saturday, Swedish media reported comments by Nobel committee member Per Wastberg, who said that if Dylan remained silent, it would be "rude and arrogant." The academy issued a statement saying that Wastberg's comments did not reflect their view. "The author awarded the Noble Prize makes up his or her own mind regarding the ceremonies involved in the presentation of the prize," said Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the academy. The choice of Dylan has been controversial, with some commentators questioning whether the singer's work qualifies as literature and others suggesting the academy missed an opportunity to bring attention to lesser-known artists. First to ignore If Dylan continues in silence, he would be the first award winner to ignore the academy's decision. Only two people have declined a Nobel Prize in literature. Boris Pasternak did so under pressure from Soviet authorities in 1958, while French writer Jean-Paul Sartre refused it in 1964. Harold Pinter and Alice Munro missed their respective ceremonies in 2005 and 2013 for health reasons. Each Nobel Prize is worth 8 million Swedish kronor ($930,000/825,000 euros). The literature prize and five other Nobel honors will be officially conferred in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of award founder Alfred Nobel's death in 1896.

Bob Dylan’s silence since being named a Nobel laureate has been described as “impolite and arrogant” by a member of the Swedish Academy. But the committee said it was up to the singer if he decided to accept. The Swedish Academy, which selects Nobel Prize winners, has failed to contact 75-year-old singer-songwriter Bob Dylan since he became the first musician ... Read More »

Why star children’s author Cornelia Funke distrusts words

She launched to fame with "Dagon Rider" 19 years ago and just released the sequel. Star kids' author Cornelia Funke tells DW why words can be challenging and why she's buying up a huge plot of land. Cornelia Funke cheerfully answers the phone at 9:30 a.m. California time. She had already been to the ocean, written a bit, made a few calls, and drunk her coffee. Every workday begins with a good cup of coffee, she says. Funke laughs sincerely and frequently, then speaks thoughtfully about her life, her work with words and pictures, and her relationship to fantasy and reality. Her children's fantasy novels, which she illustrated herself, have sold 20 million copies and been translated into 37 languages. DW: Ms. Funke, you have said that the world is full of stories. Which do you find particularly worthy of telling? Cornelia Funke: I am always interested in stories about people. Although I increasingly think that our species is a problematic one on this planet, I am still fascinated by it. I'm also fascinated by stories that stem from a particular place. That started with "The Thief Lord," which wouldn't have come into being if it weren't for Venice. In the stories I choose to tell, places always play the role of a hero. I have also always been interested in the non-human and our relationship to that - whether plants or animals or imaginary creatures. I'm interested in everything that scratches at and questions the so-called reality that we perceive. What scratches at your reality? When I'm standing on the street in Hamburg and there is one of those stepping stones under my feet, which is there to remind me of the Jews that were deported from the house I'm standing in front of, then that hugely scratches at the reality I find myself in at that moment. I might just have come back from a peaceful walk across the "Isemarkt" market square, for example. It scratches at my reality when a bird flies by me and I imagine how it views reality. It scratches at my reality when someone passes me by who has a different color of skin. How does that change the experience with world? We all know it does. It constantly scratches at my reality that we can perceive this world so differently. I find it absurd I'm asked so often why I write fantasy, because I think that reality is fantastic. And the only way to get closer to it is to write fantasy. Is that how you create your fantasy worlds? The world is fantastic. I don't have to create anything. Everyone who tries to get closer to the reality of this world will realize that it is, in its essence, fantastic. You just need to stand in a big city and look around. You'll notice that all of it has been created by humans. And humans really like to believe in the illusion that they have control over everything. That we decide how our lives work and how this world works. That we are the ones who can destroy this planet. But it's the other way around: This planet will destroy us. In this regard, humans are surprisingly immature and think their own reality to be so important. But this way of seeing the world is in the end always challenged, by illness, loss, love, death…our own mortality. You are also a skilled illustrator. Does thinking in images help you to write? What came first - the chicken or the egg? Am I an illustrator because I think visually? Or has my visual thinking grown stronger because I've always liked to draw? I would say that the visual thinking comes first. If you can draw well - which I thankfully have always been able to - it's sometimes easier to first capture an idea in images. So yes, my writing is deeply impacted by the fact that I am a visual person and distrust words. You distrust words? Can you give us an example? We constantly use words to try to get closer to what has no words. Music is in that superior to words, because it can easily express the wordless things - words always have something abstract about them that is controlled by our minds. Poetry gets often closer to what music can do. But when you write prose like I do, then the aim is to weave that which has no words in between the words. You can do that for example through the sound of language. The sound still contains more than the word itself. Are you being self-critical? hmmmm, I wouldn't call it self-criticism. Instead I would call it criticism of the material I work with. I see myself as a craftsperson, as a sculptor of words. The word - my raw material - has its limitations, which I constantly struggle with. And sometimes I am more successful and sometimes I'm less successful. It's as if I were painting a picture - sometimes it looks better and sometimes it looks worse, depending on how I use the brush and the paint. In the sequel to "Dragon Rider," The Griffon's Feather," the main protagonist Ben embarks on a dangerous mission. He wants to rescue the Pegasus from extinction. Do you want to convey a message to your young readers with this story? I'm always very careful with messages, but with this book I have actually gone the furthest in this direction. I believe that the alienation of our children from the natural world is far more dangerous than getting upset about children not reading anymore. Children spend too much time at school. Time to experience the world directly is taken away from them. The world is conveyed to them through adults' filters and what we consider to be important knowledge. Children no longer have time to play outside. They're not left unsupervised anymore. I'm currently in the process of buying 10 hectares (nearly 35 acres) of land in the Santa Monica Mountains to create a wilderness sanctuary – I’ll call it the Rim of Heaven - and I intend to offer workshops up there and bring city children into nature. I'm very concerned that children will be afraid of the natural world one day and will loose their feeling for this world. Then "The Griffin's Feather" is an encouraging book? Yes! I would be very happy if children do something after reading it - if they rescue frogs or want to see an orangutan in its natural habitat. You've said that children should take their dreams very, very seriously and shouldn't believe anyone who tells them that they can't reach them. What is it that you dream of, Ms. Funke? At the moment, I'm dreaming of this piece of land. And of the tree houses and teepees that will be on it, and that I'll have city children there that lose their fear of picking up a lizard. That's my big dream at the moment.

She launched to fame with “Dagon Rider” 19 years ago and just released the sequel. Star kids’ author Cornelia Funke tells DW why words can be challenging and why she’s buying up a huge plot of land. Cornelia Funke cheerfully answers the phone at 9:30 a.m. California time. She had already been to the ocean, written a bit, made a ... Read More »

‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ playwright Edward Albee dies at 88

Edward Albee, the three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of plays such as "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "A Delicate Balance," has died at his home in New York. He was 88. The famed American playwright died Friday at his Long Island home, according to his personal assistant Jackob Holder. A cause of death was not given. Dark themes and sharp-tongued humor typified Albee's style as he took on mainstays of American culture such as marriage, child-rearing, upper-class comforts and religion. Three of his numerous works, "A Delicate Balance" (1967), "Seascape" (1975) and "Three Tall Women" (1994) won the Pulitzer Prize. Albee's well-known play "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," released in the early 1960s, told the story of volatile middle-aged couple George and Martha. It challenged theatrical convention and won widespread critical acclaim, but was denied the Pulitzer for being too controversial. The play was made into an award-winning film in 1966 starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. 'One of the great playwrights' Theater colleagues expressed their sadness at Albee's death, with many taking to Twitter to send their condolences. On Twitter, actress Mia Farrow called Albee "one of the great" playwrights of our time, while fellow playwright Lynn Nottage said she would "miss his wit, irreverence and wisdom." Several years ago, before undergoing extensive surgery, Albee penned a note to be issued at the time of his death: "To all of you who have made my being alive so wonderful, so exciting and so full, my thanks and all my love."

Edward Albee, the three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of plays such as “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “A Delicate Balance,” has died at his home in New York. He was 88. The famed American playwright died Friday at his Long Island home, according to his personal assistant Jackob Holder. A cause of death was not given. Dark themes and sharp-tongued ... Read More »

Venice’s Golden Lion goes to Philippine film; Emma Stone wins best actress

The 73rd Venice Film Festival celebrated variety with its awards ceremony. The Golden Lion went to a challenging work from the Philippines, "The Woman Who Left," while other prizes went to quirky and provocative movies. The 10-day festival, held on the glamorous Lido di Venezia, announced the winners of its official competition on Saturday. Twenty films were vying for the Golden Lion. Instead of selecting one of the many Hollywood titles in the lineup, the jury headed by British filmmaker Sam Mendes ("American Beauty") gave the Golden Lion to "Ang Babaeng Humayo" ("The Woman Who Left") by Lav Diaz from the Philippines. The nearly four-hour long black-and-white film tells the story of the revenge wrought by a wrongly convicted schoolteacher. US fashion designer Tom Ford was the runner-up, winning the Silver Lion - Grand Jury Prize as the director of "Nocturnal Animals," another tale of bitter revenge, starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal. The Silver Lion for best director was awarded to two contrasting filmmakers: Russia's Andrei Konchalovsky was in the competition with "Rai" ("Paradise"), a Holocaust drama, whereas Mexico's Amat Escalante was honored for a provocative movie called "La Region Salvaje" ("The Untamed"), a tale involving sex with an extraterrestrial, tentacled creature hidden in a cabin. Another shocking film obtained the special jury prize: the US horror movie "The Bad Batch," by Ana Lily Amirpour. Her shocking cannibal love story stars Jim Carrey and Keanu Reeves. Best actors: Oscar Martinez and Emma Stone The prize for best actor went to the Argentinian Oscar Martinez for his role in the comedy "El Ciudadano Ilustre" ("The Distinguished Citizen"), where he depicts a cynical Nobel-prize winning author who returns to his hometown for the first time after 40 years. Emma Stone won the prize for best actress for her performance in the musical "La La Land," a colorful tribute to the golden age of US musicals set in present-day Los Angeles. Germany's Paula Beer won the Marcello Mastroianni Award as the best emerging actress for her role in the World War I drama "Frantz," by French filmmaker Francois Ozon. The Golden Lion for lifetime achievement was given to French cinema legend Jean-Paul Belmondo, during a ceremony held on Thursday. In recent years, the world's oldest film festival has strengthened its reputation as a launch pad for Hollywood's awards season. The last two films to win the Academy Award for best picture, "Spotlight" (2015) and "Birdman" (2014), both premiered in Venice.

The 73rd Venice Film Festival celebrated variety with its awards ceremony. The Golden Lion went to a challenging work from the Philippines, “The Woman Who Left,” while other prizes went to quirky and provocative movies. The 10-day festival, held on the glamorous Lido di Venezia, announced the winners of its official competition on Saturday. Twenty films were vying for the ... Read More »

‘Mechanic: Resurrection’: German filmmakers take on Hollywood

Plenty of German filmmakers have tried their luck in Hollywood. Some have made blockbusters; others went back home. Now, Dennis Gansel is throwing his hat in the ring with "Mechanic: Ressurection." It's got popular US stars, exciting backdrops, a fast-paced storyline, and a hero with a dark side that seems clean and does everything he can to save his girlfriend from the bad guys. "Mechanic: Resurrection," which opens Friday in US cinemas, has everything you'd expect from a typical Hollywood action film. With its restless jumps from one exotic location to the next, it even seems a bit like a James Bond film - an association that wasn't coincidental. Hollywood hasn't lost its pull The $40-million film received some funding from France and was directed by German filmmaker Dennis Gansel. Born in 1973 in Hanover, Gansel is the latest young German director to try his luck in Hollywood: The movie capital hasn't lost its magnetic power. Gansel is in good company. The number of German-speaking filmmakers that have gone to Hollywood over the decades is impressive. However, not all of them came voluntarily; some were forced to flee the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s. Not all of them found happiness and were fortunate in Los Angeles. Many were artistic, sensitive characters that later decided to turn their back on Hollywood. Others, like Roland Emmerich, managed to establish themselves and rise to fame. It's not surprising that Dennis Gansel was also drawn to Hollywood. After completing his studies at the University of Television and Film Munich, he made six films in Germany, trying his hand at a variety of genres. Dennis Gansel has talent in many genres His debut film, "Das Phantom" (The Phantom), was a fast-paced police-terror thriller made for television. He followed it up in 2001 with a money-making teen comedy called "Mädchen, Mädchen" (Girls, Girls). Three years later came a Nazi drama, "Before the Fall." In 2008, Gansel made the sociopolitical thriller "The Wave," which also enjoyed success in cinemas. Although his 2010 vampire film "We Are the Night" was a box-office flop, he showed that he was capable of understanding the popular horror genre. In 2012, "The Fourth State" was a media and political thriller set in Moscow. Despite its poignantly current theme - terrorism and the East-West conflict - Gansel had difficulty financing the film. Entertainment and action don't go over well with Germany's film sponsorship authorities. It looks like a James Bond film, but it's not So it's not surprising that Dennis Gansel, who's more than proven his technical directing skills, looked around for other options. In 2014, he began extensive filming for "Mechanic: Resurrection" - in Thailand, Brazil, Australia and Bulgaria. In addition to Jason Statham and Jessica Alba in the leads, Gansel was able to get stars like Tommy Lee Jones and Michelle Yeoh on board as well. Even though his Hollywood debut has gotten off to a good start, Dennis Gansel - who recently married his girlfriend Ann-Kristin - doesn't want to settle down in the US permanently. His next project, a polit-thriller based in Brussels, is already in planning. He is also working on the project "Berlin, I Love You," with directors and conductors like Oren Moverman, Marjane Satrapi, Giuseppe Tornatore and Ai Weiwei. Gansel also has yet another film in the works - a family fantasy tale based on the famous children's book series, "Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver." Shirly MacLaine has been cast in the lead. Filming for the puppet classic will start in October, in Berlin and Munich. After that, Hollywood will certainly come knocking on Gansel's door again.

Plenty of German filmmakers have tried their luck in Hollywood. Some have made blockbusters; others went back home. Now, Dennis Gansel is throwing his hat in the ring with “Mechanic: Ressurection.” It’s got popular US stars, exciting backdrops, a fast-paced storyline, and a hero with a dark side that seems clean and does everything he can to save his girlfriend ... Read More »

The greatest left-handed musicians and how to become one

They all do it: Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix and Phil Collins play music with their left hands. On Left-Handers' Day, DW presents 10 of the greatest left-handed musicians - and what you should know before becoming one. Fortunately, lefties no longer need to fear crude teachers tying left arms to chairs in order to "correct" their misbehavior. But a few misconceptions still exist about southpaws - especially in the field of music. In honor of Left-Handers' Day on August 13, we clear up a few myths. 1) Are there only left-handers and right-handers in the world? Statistics are deceiving: southpaws make up about 10-12 percent of the total world population. Yet this figure ignores ambidextrous people. Psychologists mostly agree on a right-handed gene and a non-right handed gene. If you are born with the non-right handed gene, you could still be trained to write with your right hand all your life. That happens randomly or through force: Ronald Reagan was born a non-right hander but was forced to use his right hand. Whether the switch had an impact on his brain is not recorded. Most people who call themselves lefties are actually somewhat ambidextrous and might, for example, write with their left hand but use a computer mouse with their right hand. 2) Are ambidextrous people all-rounders? According to an online survey involving 25,000 respondents, psychologists found in 2006 that ambidextrous people apparently have less spatial sense and are more likely to suffer from dyslexia and hyperactivity than people with strong hand preferences. While it seems that being ambidextrous can be a limitation, the depth of the relationship between our dominant hand and our brain hemispheres is still not fully understood. 3) Isn't it useful to be able to do things with both hands? For musicians, especially string players, it is useful. When playing violin or cello, both hands - hence, both hemispheres of the brain - need to be well coordinated. Ambidextrous people are much better at that, since their hemispheres work more closely together. For pianists, being ambidextrous is of little use. Some musicians even become ambidextrous through playing music. The Hanover Music Lab, a research institute for the psychology of music, found that all left-handed string players play comfortably with their right hand in orchestras. Otherwise, hell would break lose in the tight orchestra pit. 4) In classical music, southpaws suffer under the tyranny of the right-handed majority? The Hanover Music Lab also debunked this myth. They admit that perhaps individual players might feel restrained by having to use their right hand. Yet, the majority of lefties play with greater precision - even with their right hand. Through hours of training, they are able to strengthen their right hand sufficiently. Thirty-five percent of the violinists in their study were lefties, so presumably there wouldn't be such a large number of southpaws if they felt suppressed. 5) So it's best for a musician to be right-handed or ambidextrous? Especially for instruments like organ or piano, hardly any left-handed versions of the instruments are available or affordable. True southpaws who want an adjusted instrument should then should go for guitars, basses or violins. They are more easily available, but still expensive. Kurt Cobain got the guitar-maker Fender to produce a special left-handed guitar for him - the Fender Kurt Cobain Jaguar. If the 1,500 euros for this model are still too much, southpaws may pull a Jimi Hendrix: He is the most famous (left-handed) guitarist and was perhaps the first to play on a DIY-southpaw guitar: Take a normal guitar, pull off the strings and re-string in the reverse order.

They all do it: Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix and Phil Collins play music with their left hands. On Left-Handers’ Day, DW presents 10 of the greatest left-handed musicians – and what you should know before becoming one. Fortunately, lefties no longer need to fear crude teachers tying left arms to chairs in order to “correct” their misbehavior. But a few ... Read More »

Harry Potter script achieves record sales

A few days after its release, the book "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" is already boasting record sales - but it's still far from beating the seventh novel in the fantasy series. It's the eighth story in the famous boy wizard series, but instead of a narrative novel like J.K. Rowling's previous Potter books, it's the script for the play that opened in London on Saturday. The screenplay was published at the stroke of midnight, just after the play's gala evening. In the US and Canada, the book sold more than two million copies in the first two days, an "unprecedented" result for a script, according to publisher Scholastic. It has also sold more than 680,000 copies in Britain since being published on Sunday. "There's no doubt about it; this will be our biggest book of the year," Kate Skipper, buying director at UK bookstore chain Waterstones said in a statement. If the sales rate continued, the script book would "be the second biggest-selling single week for one title since records began, with 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' as the first," said UK book industry magazine "The Bookseller." Harry Potter play sold out through May Written by Rowling, playwright Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany, the two-part play is set 19 years after "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the final novel in the original series, released in 2007. The play is sold out through May 2017, but 250,000 additional tickets of the Harry Potter play are due to go on sale on Thursday. Still far behind the success of the final novel Despite its broken records this week, the "Cursed Child" screenplay can't keep up with the novel that preceded it. The seventh book in the Harry Potter series was successful beyond compare: Within 24 hours of being released in 2007, "The Deathly Hallows" sold 8.3 million copies in the US and 2.65 million copies in Britain, according to the publishers for those markets, Scholastic and Bloomsbury, respectively. Globally, the seven Harry Potter novels have sold more than 450 million copies since the first book hit the shelves in 1997. The wizard's adventures have been translated into 79 languages and adapted into eight films.

A few days after its release, the book “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is already boasting record sales – but it’s still far from beating the seventh novel in the fantasy series. It’s the eighth story in the famous boy wizard series, but instead of a narrative novel like J.K. Rowling’s previous Potter books, it’s the script for the ... Read More »

Will Bollywood lure Germans?

A new TV channel is bringing Indian films packed with singing and dancing, as well as flamboyant TV shows, to German viewers. But it's unclear if the channel will be able to entice Germans into watching its programs. For most Germans, the word Bollywood is associated with Indian films featuring colorful costumes, lavish musical numbers and extravagantly choreographed dances. One of India's largest TV networks, Zee TV, now aims to bring these films and other Indian programs into the living rooms of Germany. Zee, which claims to have viewers in over 165 countries, is starting a new channel from Thursday, July 28, in the European country. The channel - which will be available for free via cable and satellite - is broadcast round the clock, and it is part of the network's strategy to expand its presence internationally. Talking to DW earlier this year, Zee TV chairman Subhash Chandra said the channel's programming would primarily be made up of Bollywood content. "However, it will be specifically tailor-made for the German market and adapted for the country," he noted. Germany already boasts a vast number of TV channels and has a reputation as a difficult market for foreign media content. Still, Chandra remains confident viewers in Germany would want to watch Zee TV as "the positioning of our content is happy and celebratory, and it caters to people of all ages." The channel particularly wants to target women audiences in the 19-59 age group, who it believes would be more receptive to Bollywood, filled with emotional drama involving elaborate stories of love and longing as well as dance sequences and songs. Growing presence Few German TV channels and cinemas currently show Indian movies. However, a few years ago, Germany witnessed a surge in interest for Bollywood films when a private German TV station, RTL II, began airing them on a regular basis. At present, Germany is considered to be the second-biggest market in Europe for the films, trailing only the UK. And Indian movie personalities such as Shah Rukh Khan enjoy a significant fan base in cities like Berlin. In 2012, for instance, when Khan was due to arrive for the premiere of his film "Don 2" in Berlin, a crowd of over 1,000 people waited passionately in freezing temperatures outside the Friedrichstadtpalast in the German capital to catch a glimpse of the actor. But overall, the number of Germans interested in watching Indian films continues to remain very limited, as many are not excited by the prospect of watching three-hour long emotional sagas interrupted by dance numbers. Friederike Behrends, CEO of the new channel in Germany, told the DPA news agency that Germans have so far known only a very small part of Bollywood. But it's actually one of the largest film industries in the world, boasting a wide variety of offerings, she stressed, adding: "And that is what we want to offer our audience in Germany." Bollywood vs Hollywood Bollywood, a term that apes Hollywood, refers to the Hindi-language film industry based in the western Indian city of Mumbai (previously called Bombay). Films are also produced in other parts of the country in various languages like Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. Overall, India produces more films than any other country in the world, with the South Asian nation estimated to churn out about 2,000 films a year, nearly four times that of Hollywood. However, when it comes to box office revenue, the Indian film industry lags far behind its American counterpart, with US films earning around five times as much as the total revenue of Indian movies. Nevertheless, over the past several years, Bollywood has been following in Hollywood's footsteps when it comes to doing business, striving to push for more professionalization and corporatization of the industry. It's also increasing efforts to expand the sources of revenue with the help of in-cinema advertising, merchandising and the sale of cable and satellite rights. At the same time, there has been growing interest from Hollywood studios to co-produce films in India and partner with Indian production houses. In recent years, Bollywood has also focused more on expanding its worldwide presence, with attempts to woo foreign viewers in overseas markets to watch its films. 'A difficult market' As a result of these developments, Bollywood films have become more popular outside of the Indian subcontinent, and Indian celebrities are making their presence felt at international film events. Overseas revenue collection for Indian movies rose as high as 11.5 percent last year, according to the FICCI-KPMG Indian Media and Entertainment Industry Report 2016. However, the growth is predominantly driven by Indian expatriates, who are ferocious consumers of Indian entertainment products, including films. This is where the challenge for Zee TV lies on the German market - because unlike a country such as the US, where over 2 million Indians live, Germany has a far smaller Indian community, which stood at around 80,000 in 2014. That means in order to succeed, Zee will have to win over the German audience and cannot rely solely on Indians living in the country. Chandra, the network's chairman, underlined that they are aware of the likes and dislikes of the German viewers and "we will select interesting content for them." "Germany is very important, because it is a difficult market for foreign media content. Hence, we feel that if we can succeed in this market, then we can succeed in any other market across the world." Additional reporting by Murali Krishnan from New Delhi.

A new TV channel is bringing Indian films packed with singing and dancing, as well as flamboyant TV shows, to German viewers. But it’s unclear if the channel will be able to entice Germans into watching its programs. For most Germans, the word Bollywood is associated with Indian films featuring colorful costumes, lavish musical numbers and extravagantly choreographed dances. One ... Read More »

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