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“Pandemic as an opportunity”: Four Emerging Producers have their say


- The discussion, organised by Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival and moderated by Cineuropa's editor-in-chief Domenico La Porta, was held online on 16 April

“Pandemic as an opportunity”: Four Emerging Producers have their say

On Friday 16 April, Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival hosted a special online talk entitled “Pandemic as an opportunity”. The panel, moderated by Cineuropa's editor-in-chief Domenico La Porta, came at a critical moment for the entire audiovisual sector and aimed to discuss the opportunities that the post-Covid world may offer.

La Porta introduced the four Emerging Producers participating to the talk, namely Maximilian Haslberger of Germany's Amerikafilm, Iva Plemić Divjak of Serbia's Horopter Film Production, Racha Helen Larsen of Norway's Yellow Log and Marek Novák of Czech Republic's Xova Film. Each participant represented one geographical part of Europe and, before joining the panel, attended dedicated roundtables with the other fourteen 2021 Emerging Producers.

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The floor was first given to Larsen, who wished to see “more fluidity in the co-production sphere” in terms of territorial spend, increased funding to favour the screenings of films as well as stronger efforts to educate the audience – and in particular the youngest – to watch more arthouse films.

Next, Plemić Divjak explained that within her workgroup, they identified a series of strengths and areas of improvements for the film industries of South-Eastern Europe. Among the strengths are the region's “resilience” and “talent for improvisation” developed over years of political turmoil, as well as the presence of “shared cultural and historical spaces”. Moreover, Plemić Divjak pointed out the necessity for the region's industry players to lobby in order to pursue desired policy changes, the need for increased incentives for lower capacity countries as well as the implementation of defined quota to screen films from the Global South on festivals and platforms.

Later on in the discussion, Haslberger argued that the industry needs to acknowledge that “amortisation through the exploitation of films is a rather lottery-based system” and wondered whether sales agents and distributors, the hardest hit by the crisis, should receive more support, considering that production funding, while limited, is still relatively good compared to that aimed at backing distribution players. “This [approach] would give us the opportunity to see things from a different angle”, Haslberger added.

Following Haslberger's contribution, Novák touched upon the possible developments that increased relationships with streaming platforms may bring. Among other things, he highlighted how limited – and distorted – the amount of data available is, and how it currently does not provide a clear picture of European films' spectatorship. Besides, transparency could be pushed by funding bodies, asking streamers to share their analytics before granting financial support, for example. The topic of data-driven productions in the short and long run took centre stage in the last round of contributions.

You can watch the full panel here (on Facebook) and here (on YouTube), and read our interviews with all the 2021 Emerging Producers here.

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