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VENEZIA 2019 Venice Production Bridge

"Il contenuto è sovrano" all'European Film Forum

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- VENEZIA 2019: L'evento del settore ha esaminato il modo migliore per promuovere le opere audiovisive europee oltre i confini del continente

"Il contenuto è sovrano" all'European Film Forum
(© Birgit Heidsiek)

Questo articolo è disponibile in inglese.

The European Film Forum held at the Venice International Film Festival on 31 August addressed how the presence of European audiovisual works in key markets beyond Europe can be bolstered and how European productions can reach larger audiences in non-EU countries. “Content is always king,” stated Roberto Viola, Director General of Communication, Networks, Content and Technology at the European Commission. “Europe is a brand for creativity, but only European productions travel outside Europe.”

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According to research carried out by the European Audiovisual Observatory, 671 European films were released outside the continent in 2017. Due to a surge in ticket sales for European movies in China, admissions to these films outside Europe rose by 18.7%, to 97 million, in 2017, the second-best result achieved in the last five years. European pictures accounted for 3% of the admissions generated in the 12 non-European sample markets.

The Venice Production Bridge is growing year after year. “We also have the chance to support the changing landscape,” said Viola. “We have to help producers to be more visible on VoD platforms.” Co-productions help to increase diversity. “We can support productions with subtitles, increase their findability by standardising the way to find audiovisual products, and develop safe ways to clear the rights.” Because there are too many productions, the director general wants to reward success by establishing certain criteria. “Success at international markets should be one criterion, for example.” Meanwhile, MEP Massimiliano Smeriglio suggested doubling the MEDIA budget. “I met with the Finnish Culture Minister in Brussels and asked if she would be able to work in that direction,” said Smeriglio. “Let’s try to keep the extraordinary assets in Europe.”

There are plenty of possibilities and problems when it comes to how Europeans can adopt the new platforms and new ways of watching movies, as Daniela Elstner, executive director of UniFrance, pointed out. “If we want to export French films, we have to understand the market. We have strong productions in Europe and films that travel in Europe, which helps them to go beyond the borders,” underlined Elstner, who has longstanding experience as a former world sales agent with her company Doc & Film International as well as working for Les Films du Losange. “We need to know where and who the audience is.”

For Gary Davey, managing director of content at Sky, one key question is whether the content is worth paying for. “We have 52 drama series in production,” said Davey. “As an investor, we commission with independent producers.” The pay-TV studio is looking for stories that stem from a local idea but which can become a global phenomenon. “The arrival of the platforms has changed the rules of the game in terms of prices and formats,” emphasised Antonio Saura, managing director of Spain’s Latido Films. “I have respect for the classic form of distribution. Nowadays, we can no longer take the same risks that we used to take five years ago. We have to proceed very carefully.” Due to censorship, he considers China as a far-from-ideal market. His biggest fears are algorithm-driven films that only reproduce formulas. “Each project has its own life cycle,” concluded Iole Maria Giannattasio, coordinator of the research unit within the Directorate General for Cinema of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Activities and Tourism. “We are trying to support co-productions with bonuses, such as extra points in our scheme.” Furthermore, the investment in development is crucial for Giannattasio. “This is how you can create quality,” she asserted.

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