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BERLINALE 2016 Market

“European film is a cultural authority,” says Oettinger


- BERLIN 2016: MEDIA is testing day-and-date release strategies with further projects

“European film is a cultural authority,” says Oettinger
EU Commissioner Günther H Oettinger speaking at the event

The Creative Europe MEDIA Day at the Berlinale was all about digital innovations. While the European Commission continues to support new release strategies in order to bring the digital single market into existence, EU Commissioner Günther H Oettinger underlined that the territoriality principle would remain in the film sector. Among the companies that participated in the second EU-supported experiment with day-and-date releases is London-based Curzon, with its VoD label Curzon Home Cinema. Viewers can decide whether they would like to see a film in the cinema or via VoD. According to Philip Mordecai, head of Curzon Home Cinema, there is no cannibalisation when it comes to cinema and VoD, because they are aimed at different target groups. 

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One of the first films to have been released successfully via day-and-date is the drama 45 Years [+see also:
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, starring Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay. The online streaming appeals mostly to viewers outside of London and parents who cannot afford a babysitter. But the experiences with the Curzon project cannot be compared to other European countries, because the UK is not a significant market for European films in other languages. A simultaneous release of five festival films, including a subsequent Q&A with one of the directors, has been tested by Bero Beyer, head of the International Film Festival Rotterdam, who organised the venture in 45 cinemas throughout Europe. 

Meanwhile, Pierre-Alexandre Labelle, co-founder of Under The Milky Way International, is focusing on films that the world sales agents cannot sell in certain territories. He picks up these leftovers and receives support for digitising the films for various platforms. The purpose of this project is to find out how much revenue can be made with this kind of release, and in which countries it is possible to open a market through various forms of digital release.

Another of the European Commission's goals is to develop strategies and start up search engines in order to spot films whose licences are expired and for which it is difficult to find the actual rights holder. The plan is to create a similar identification system for films to the ISBN number for books. With The Content Map in the UK and Offre Légale in France, the first pilot projects have already kicked off. Meanwhile, Rebecca O'Brien, the producer of many films by Ken Loach, uploaded one of his films to YouTube in order to provoke a reaction by the rights holder. During this time, the film was also much more in demand on DVD, she reported.

“The territoriality principle will remain,” underlined Oettinger at the Berlinale, because this is the basis for the business model in the film sector. The Commission plans to support further innovative projects and technologies. Oettinger invited the industry to contribute with its collective knowledge in order to jointly work out a digital strategy. He summed up by stating that European film is a “cultural authority” that should not be underestimated.

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