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INDUSTRY Italy

Digital: Opportunity for change, Microcinema leads the way

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Digital: Opportunity for change, Microcinema leads the way

“Lots of healthy cinemas make a film successful.” Those were the words of Roberto Bassano, a.d. of Microcinema, the leading Italian digital film network. Active since 2007, Microcinema today brings together more than 450 theatres for live events, of which 200 are connected to each other via a network - and on September 28, there will be a live showing of Faust by Charles Gounod from London's Royal Opera House.

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During an institutional panel discussion involving producers, distributors and exhibitors on the technological future of Italian cinema during the Venice Film Festival, Bassano offered a snapshot of the state-of-the-art proximity exercise - small theatres are the most numerous and most locally rooted, and yet obstacles remain in the way of their development. First of all, there's the difficulty of accessing tax credit, since the parameters in place make the available credit inefficient. Secondly, for these exercises, which are mostly mono-screen, the distribution requires a different approach, allowing for greater flexibility - in line with the trends in the programmes of European film theatres, such exercises should best place each product within its own programmes.

For Nicola Borrelli, director-general for cinema of MiBAC, the initial large investment for conversion to digital affords a high level of risk for exhibitors. A commitment on the part of institutions is therefore necessary to assure the real possibility of accessing contributions: what has been done so far has worked well for medium size businesses, but not so well for small ones. It is therefore important to strengthen collaboration with regions and to involve financial companies as brokers. What is crucial is to bring together the few resources available, including the European structural funds, destined for the digitisation of cinemas, could without a doubt help an initiative to overcome the more difficult obstacles.

Paolo Protti, on behalf of AGIS and ANEC, recognises the costs of managing digital screening systems and the remaining critical technical issues, particularly in relation to the compatibility of standards, but says that this does not exclude the need for change and the great opportunities that it brings for the country and for distributing products, provided that distribution does not get in the way of multi-programming, but rather that it is able to reap the opportunities with a business policy that takes into account the new scenario drawn up by digital cinema. To sum up, a hint at the slow-down of the rhythm of cinema theatres’ conversions, an alarm bell that makes the urgency of institutional involvement even more essential, so that we do not find ourselves unprepared by the 'switching-off' of film distribution.

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(Translated from Italian)

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