Independent German distributors send a strong message to MEDIA
by Birgit Heidsiek
- The members of AG Verleih are counting on the fact that the European Commission shares their idea of strengthening the independent European film industry
The European Commission’s plan to change European copyright regulations in order to create a single market in Europe are threatening independent European film distributors. In a strong statement addressed to MEDIA, the German association of independent distributors AG Verleih has declared that these intentions threaten the very existence of independent European film distributors and producers.
“Independent film distribution companies are the major driving force allowing the circulation of European films within the European Union,” emphasise the more than 30 AG Verleih members. “Independent distributors are important partners for independent producers. Therefore, they should be the natural accomplice of the European Commission, as we both share the same vision: making European films available to a European audience.”
The amendment of multi-territorial licensing will place independent European films in jeopardy. Film funding in Europe is based on investments from, and pre-selling rights to, several territories. Doing away with the principle of territorial licensing would not only destroy such networks for financing but would also leave the field of film distribution open to only a few multinational companies. “They will not curate the various markets, and nor will they acquire a significant number of independent European films for release.”
Independent European distributors have a precise knowledge of their market, which is essential when it comes to developing their release strategies in order to promote a movie successfully. They need to choose the ideal release date, find out if the talents are available for a promotional tour and cooperate with arthouse exhibitors that are best for this type of film. This requires individual artwork, and individual press and promotion for each European territory. “Even multinational companies handle a release differently from territory to territory,” underline the indie distributors.
“Same-day releases all over Europe, theatrically or online, will cut revenues for the whole value chain of cinemas, distributors, world sales and producers. It will lead to a bleeding of the fragile European film industry in no time. European citizens will not see European films earlier, but rather not at all anymore. Instead of threatening the European film industry, a new European copyright law needs to be designed to protect national markets. It is necessary to support European films to enable them to find their international audiences.”
Although it is becoming tougher from year to year to release independent arthouse films, indie distributors believe strongly in their work and share the visions of the movie directors. “We count on the fact,” concludes the AG Verleih group, “that independent European distributors and the European Commission share the same idea of strengthening the independent European film industry, giving European films the chance to be seen by a European audience, today and in the future.”