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CANNES 2022 Marché du Film

At Cannes, experts discuss the circulation of European titles


- CANNES 2022: The two-hour conference, organised by the European Audiovisual Observatory, explored in depth the figures, the challenges and the best practices behind the circulation of European films

At Cannes, experts discuss the circulation of European titles
A moment from the debate

On 21 May, the Main Stage of the Marché du Film hosted a new conference organised by the European Audiovisual Observatory (EAO). The panel, titled “Circulation of European Films: Is Availability Enough?”, was moderated by EAO’s reps Maja Cappello and Martin Kanzler and aimed to explore strategies to boost the circulation of European films.

The participants were EC’s Director Media Policy Giuseppe Abbamonte; Sabine Chemaly, of TF1 Studio; CEPI’s Secretary General Mathilde Fiquet; Amélie Leenhardt, of ARTE; EAO’s Executive Director Susanne Nikoltchev; Joan Sala, of Filmin and Atlàntida Film Fest; EFAD’s Vice-President and Estonian Film Institute’s CEO Edith Sepp; Marc Smit of Cinéart; EAO’s film analyst Patrizia Simone and EAO’s legal analyst Sophie Valais.

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After Nikoltchev and Kanzler’s opening words, Simone took the floor and began providing some figures about the circulation of European titles. In the years 2015-2019, an average of 2,000 European films were produced every year, and were released on average on three theatrical markets and five VOD markets. Six titles out of ten were only released nationwide, with very few benefiting from a wider distribution. 

From a provider perspective, however, European films represent a significant share of the film offering, accounting for 59% of the films theatrically released and 32% of the VOD releases. In terms of availability, around 6,100 films are released every year in Europe and the UK, and 42,000 titles are available on platforms. On average, each country releases 450 films in theatres and 1,000 on VOD. “Owing to capacity limits coupled with regional differences in supply and demand, it’d be difficult to expect to have films released everywhere,” Simone said, adding that theatrical success measured by the number of sold tickets is highly correlated with VOD presence, since “European films with higher than average admissions are more likely to appear in VOD catalogues.”

On the topic of selling and distributing national and non-national films, Chemaly admitted that the two kinds are treated differently, but added that this doesn’t depend only on the country of production; other factors include the films’ distribution plans and whether these are arthouse, “cross-over” or mainstream titles: “Every film is a prototype. It’s really difficult to know the recipe for success.” Meanwhile, Smit stressed the importance of “creating the desire” for a given film through effective marketing campaigns, whilst Sala touched upon the aspect of talent availability, who are more difficult to involve when it comes to non-national films.

Speaking about intercepting well-defined audience categories, Sala explained how Filmin’s team tries to “connect the catalogue with actuality.” “It’s the main way of working with long-tail catalogues. We have over 15,000 titles, with 70% of them being European,” he added.

Fiquet pointed out that one of European cinema’s huge added values is diversity. While this makes our film scene artistically rich, it makes it hard to produce titles that gain widespread success across the continent owing to cultural differences. She added that education can play a crucial role in terms of discoverability, and how data transparency from VOD platforms is crucial to favour these films’ circulation.

Later, Valais explored Europe’s most recent legal framework, including the Article 13 requiring a 30% minimum share of European works in VOD catalogues as well as encouraging financial contributions towards production, direct investments and national film funds. She also spoke about Europe’s new funding priorities, namely cross-border circulation, cooperation between companies, audience development and policy awareness.

After a fireside chat between Cappello and Abbamonte focused on EC’s commitment to back the sector’s recovery and transform it to make it more competitive globally, the latter invited Sepp and Leenhardt to the stage.

Leenhardt talked through the success story of ArteKino, an online festival taking place every year in December and showcasing young female filmmakers from Europe. The event helped these films to intercept new audiences outside of their country of production, with the effect of being selected by other festivals and sold to other territories. 

Towards the end of the talk, Sepp mentioned EFAD’s 2030 agenda and how the different funds are actively discussing whether to allocate more resources to promotion. Smit argued that the 30% rule and geo-blocking favoured the availability and monetisation of European works, allowing creators to negotiate better deals with the likes of Amazon and HBO. Sepp added that circulation is not just about new titles, but also about preserving cinematic heritage, and more resources – along with a clear shared strategy – are needed to pursue such objectives.

The event was brought to a close with a Q&A session.

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