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European Film Forum: “The challenge for Europe is a cultural one”


- VENICE 2016: The role of cinema was a key issue at the European Film Forum in Venice

European Film Forum: “The challenge for Europe is a cultural one”
l-r: Detlef Rossmann, moderator Martin Blaney, Silvia Costa, Alfred Hürmer, Edith Sepp, Phil Clapp and Christian Bräuer

The different approaches to attracting audiences and analysing their behaviour were key issues at the European Film Forum panel discussion entitled “Big Screen or Mobile Phone? The Future of European Film”, which was held by European cinema organisations CICAE and UNIC in Venice. If we watch a movie on a smartphone instead of a cinema screen, the image is sized down to a similar degree to how the battery symbol is displayed on the smartphone screen, pointed out Detlef Rossmann, president of the CICAE, in his introduction.

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Lucia Recalde Langarica, head of unit of the Creative Europe MEDIA programme, underlined that the cinemas possess information on how many people attend their screenings and can use these data in a smart way. According to Phil Clapp, president of UNIC and the UK Cinema Association, data can be used to target markets more effectively. If mailings are managed by CMS, 60% fewer emails will be sent out, but they are 40% more effective. Although the film industry is rich in terms of data, it is not clear what this information is telling us. “The younger audience is watching content of all types,” Clapp explained. More details will be presented in a study on the German audience, which will be extended to other countries.

“Data management is a big challenge for our industry,” said Christian Bräuer, president of AG Kino. “Innovation in cinema is an ongoing process. We need a solution for small cinemas.” Meanwhile, Alfred Hürmer sees the biggest change coming in the next five or six years. “All films will come to the cinemas by cable or satellite. Distributors will fulfil more of a promotional and agency role, while the exhibitors will develop direct relationships with the producers.” In Germany, the rules of the film funds are forcing the producers to release a film theatrically to attract an audience.

“We should take the initiative and create a future think-tank focusing on how European films should be in 20 years' time,” proposed Edith Sepp, head of the Estonian Film Fund and leader of the EFADs working group. “It is important to maintain the entire chain in the age of digitisation,” summed up Silvia Costa, chair of the Committee on Culture at the European Parliament. “96% of European screens are digitised, but 1,900 screens are at risk of closure.” Due to the obsolescence of digital projectors, there is a need for new laws because support only exists for the first generation of these devices.

In addition, there is a degree of underscreening in some European regions. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen the support available to 1,900 screens through a specific call in the MEDIA programme, and address the member states for an investment in structural funds. “The challenge for Europe is a cultural one,” concluded Costa. “Cinema is a fundamental tool we can use to create this dialogue.”

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