Review: Setting new standards for a film festival’s online edition (interview)

It is exactly half a year that in the light of continuously rising Corona numbers the cinemas beside all cultural institutions in Germany were closed. 2020 not yet affected by the pandemic, the Berlinale had to (including the Berlinale Talents) like the European Film Market among other film festivals of the beginning of the year, including the Sundance Film Festival and the International Film Festival Rotterdam, implement their first online edition. An enormous learning curve characterizes the film festival sector, and many film festivals continue to attract attention with new innovative formats. One German festival that set new standards in the first quarter was the film festival Max Ophüls Prize. An interview with the two heads, Svenja Böttger, the managing director, and Oliver Baumgarten, the artistic director, can be found here (in German).

Reflections on the role of cinema in an era of new dimensions of film consumption

Cinema is not dead and film festivals are receiving an essential role’ is one of the essential statements of media industry expert Olivier Müller in a conversation with the artistic director of the Locarno Film Festival, Giona A. Nazarro. Another perspective in a picture that could not be more ambiguous: While ArcLight Hollywood, one of the top-selling U.S. cinemas of the Pacific Theaters no longer reopens, the world’s second largest cinema chain Cineworld has to cope with billions in losses, the cinema window is being renegotiated, Netflix, Amazon and Co report new records in subscribers, others speak of a „promising turning point in film exploitation„. Further insights into the future-oriented conversation (in German) can be found here.

Attack from Hollywood – if you don’t move, you get moved

With the recently published study „Attack from Hollywood„, Prof. Dr. Thorsten Hennig-Thurau from the University of Münster, confirms what many had long feared: Streamers are gradually taking over the audiovisual market! The fact that the Corona pandemic is proving an accelerant for conventional television is now being seen not only among the younger target groups, but also among the over-50s, who are becoming increasingly more enthusiastic about digital media consumption. The fact that the media libraries of public TV providers such as arte & Co are also recording significant growth rates is somewhat optimistic, yet Thurau also sees that the cinema industry has long been caught up in this trend and urgently advises more customer and innovation orientation in addition to quality, as well as a stronger distribution of digital cinema windows.
The report on the study in German only can be found here.

On Cinemascapes and Streaming Worlds – cinema industry, film critics and film festivals in discussion – Feb. 9, 2021, 7 p.m.

With the Corona pandemic, streaming platforms have gained millions of new subscribers. Cinemas were forced to close, film festivals to go digital. While cinema allows collective experience of films, streaming offers private enjoyment. How can cinema and streaming programs complement one another? And how can cinema be saved for the future in the face of social distancing rules and underfunding?

Since 2018, Jeanine Meerapfel has offered  debates on film policy issues in her Academy Talks series in the run-up to the Berlinale. This year, despite its postponement, the usual date will remain – at least for the conversation. For the lack of collective aesthetic experiences and opportunities for public discourse is undermining democratic discussion to an unforeseeable extent. 

Andreas Kilb in conversation with Christine Berg, Meret Ruggle, Christoph Terhechte, Anna Winger and Jeanine Meerapfel.
Tuesday, February 9, 2021, 7 p.m., in English.
The recorded talk you find here

NECSUS special issue: Film festivals in times of COVID-19

With its autumn 2020 issue, the open access journal NECSUS addresses numerous issues surrounding the challenges of film festivals in the wake of the covid pandemic.
Articles include Film festivals and the first wave of COVID-19: Challenges, opportunities, and reflections on festivals? relations to crises by Marijke de Valck and Antoine Damiens and many more from the film festival researcher community.
Find access to the magazine here

Film festivals in Germany plead for a structural change in cinema culture

On the basis of its growing importance for the dissemination of film culture and the preservation of cinema culture, AG Filmfestival, like other cultural sectors, demands to be concretely included in discussions on exit strategies for the time after Corona. The aim is to agree on short-term intervention to support the film festival landscape and thus also to safeguard the employment crisis, but also to develop a long-term cultural policy agenda together with politicians.
The press release of the AG Filmfestival in German is available here

Time for re-thinking what film festivals do

It is time to “to think about the business itself; to re-think the core of what we do, why we do it and what is the actual meaning of what we do? What is it that really matters? That is the massive win of this year, making us re-think the basics.”, Orwa Nyrabia (head of the IDFA) emphasised in an interview with Geoffrey Macnab in the Screendaily. And he is not alone with this position. Yesterday’s Zoom ScreenDaily Talk: Black Nights, Berlin, „Rotterdam heads to talk winter festival plans“ with Tiina Lokk, director of Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival; Mariette Rissenbeek, executive director of the Berlin International Film Festival; Vanja Kaludjercic, director of International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR); and Marge Liiske, director of Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event demonstrated a unity in this attitude. Vanja Kaludjercic, in particular, spoke out in favour of using this time to develop formats together with filmmakers and other industry representatives in order to shape this phase of upheaval together. The recorded talk you can finde here.

The EU’s new film festival network support is far from a trendsetting function

“Film festivals taking place this fall face similar challenges to their spring counterparts: the balancing act between presence and online screening is still required. But what matters is that they are still taking place. Their teams are working full steam to present the audience with an exciting selection of films.
MEDIA now supports 34 festivals from 19 countries with over 1.6 million euros.” (Creative Europe Desk Hamburg).
For the first time, the new funding line for the initiation and support of film festival networks was also considered in the call for tenders. A new incentive that could not only create Europe-wide synergies, but above all, set new trends. This time existing networks were supported. It remains to be seen how the new incentives will develop and their invigorating effect.
The results in detail can be found here

Film festivals: friend or foe? A discussion of AG DOK at the 63rd Int. Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film

Some regard them as the last bastion of cinema culture, others as one of the few gateways to the audience, and still others as the outgrowth of an eventization trend. Film festivals: friend or foe was thus recently the topic of a working group consisting of filmmakers, producers, distributors and film festival organizers at the Dok Leipzig. The diverse results were presented publicly in a panel discussion with Susanne Binninger (AG DOK) Daniel Sponsel (DOK.fest München) and Florina Vilgertshofer (AG DOK). For a recording of the event in the German language click here

New Film Conception turns the spot on the film festival landscape

Beyond its own federal state, the 3rd Film Conception Baden-Wurttemberg 2020, an update to the Film Conception 2008, was awaited with great interest. A milestone in many respects for the film festivals attending, as for the first time, not only were they considered as part of the film industry, but the MVK and MFG networking event provided the impetus to found a community of interests and henceforth intensify positive exchange. The results of the Film Concept Baden-Württemberg 2020 combined with a readjustment of the objectives can be downloaded as an e-paper in German