The future of online distribution for European films discussed at Cannes' EFAD roundtable
by Paraskevi Karageorgu
- CANNES 2016: The event concluded that “collaboration” and “community” are the most important factors in fostering the online distribution of European works across the EU
The conclusions from the European Film Agency Directors (EFAD) roundtable "How to foster online distribution of European works across the EU? Priorities for public and private actors", which took place at the 69th Cannes Film Festival on 17 May, were clear for all to see. In order to foster the online distribution of European works across the EU, the main issues to be tackled are: providing accessibility, prioritising, fighting piracy, and dealing with the lack of financing and infrastructure. Among the many speakers at the forum, which was organised in collaboration with the CNC and the European Commission as part of the European Film Forum, were Martin Kanzler, a film-industry analyst at the European Audiovisual Observatory; Jacek Fuksiewicz, advisor to the director for film production and European affairs at the Polish Film Institute; Edith Sepp, director of the Estonian Film Institute; Marco Chimenz, president of Cattleya; Pierre-Alexandre Labelle, founder of Under the Milky Way; and Frédéric Bereyziat, deputy director general of UniFrance. The forum also focused on the challenges of financing audiovisual works and defining the role of public policies in stimulating investment (read the news).
The president of the European Film Agency Directors, Peter Dinges, pointed out that one of the most important things to be done is prioritising, as it is problematic having to provide online accessibility and promotion for all 1,600 films that are produced every year in Europe. However, on the other hand, he noted that in some European countries, even the most popular films, such as the European Film Award winners, are not accessible (in either physical or digital form), and this issue needs to be tackled. Also, accessibility was acknowledged as a problem owing to the following three obstacles: technical, legal and linguistic barriers. There is an urgent need to find legal solutions that would fight piracy, as well as linguistic solutions, via subtitles, so as to promote distribution.
Lucía Recalde, head of the MEDIA Unit of the European Commission, summarised the outcomes of the forum’s discussions with the word “collaboration”, as collaboration between the Commission, countries, distributors, theatres and VoD platforms is what, in her view, would foster the online distribution of European films across the EU. She also pointed out that providing a legal offering of VoD platforms would be the best weapon to fight against piracy. Speakers also acknowledged that a lack of capital is one of the major issues to be tackled, and the proposed solutions to this obstacle included the establishment of stronger collaboration between the private and public sectors, and the provision of venture capital and simple loans, through which new ideas would be given an opportunity to develop and the Digital Single Market would be nurtured.
Giorgio Gosetti, director of the Venice Days and the moderator of the session, concluded that in today’s globalised world, in which the American market reigns supreme, Europeans should not copy strategies, but rather invent something new, and in this context, the idea of community (either virtual or physical) could be a fantastic opportunity for this.