Success course of paid-VoD-services unstoppable

It certainly came as no surprise to anyone that the paid-VoD market continued to post growth rates in 2021. An increase of 25 percent, as evidenced by a study conducted by Goldmedia on behalf of the FFA, should have once again demonstrated the extent and seriousness of the disruptive shifts. But it’s hardly surprising when you consider that only the versatile digital offerings of film festivals provided an alternative to Netflix and the like in these months, while German cinemas were closed without alternative during multiple lockdowns. The delayed introduction of the digital cinema window from Cinemalovers for program cinemas to YORCK ON DEMAND of the York cinema group proves to be highly regrettable not only for the friends of arthouse cinema, but for an entire industry. With a total turnover of the cinema industry of around 1 billion euros (2019) compared to 3 billion euros of the pay-VOD market (2020) in Germany, the question is which future concepts can still make a difference here.

New Theme Report shows record results at 100th anniversary of the Motion Picture Association

The Motion Picture Association’s 100th birthday present could hardly have been more gratifying than the figures for the global cinema and home entertainment market (including mobile use, but excluding pay TV), which were presented in March by means of the 70-page Theme Report. With a new record total of $99.7 billion, the figures not only surpassed the first pandemic year by 24 percent, but exceeded even the record $98.1 billion set in 2019. While the DVD/blu ray market continued to decline as expected (from $15 billion in 2017 to $8 billion in 2020 to $6.5 billion in 2021), the digital business is proving to be the big driver alongside cinema. Thus, VoD subscriptions increased by 14 percent, up by about 164 million, and now confirmed to jump over the billion-dollar hurdle again after 2020 with 1.3 billion.

Even if the data from the USA/Canada are not comparable with the European or German market – in North America, for example, the largest cinema-going group is found among 15-39 year-olds with 26% (2021), whereas in Germany the 50-59 year-olds represented the largest cinema-going group with 18% in 2020 – the US trends have also prevailed in Europe for years, with a few years‘ shift.

An Option Becomes a Constraint: On the Debate Around Online Editions of Film Festivals

After the Sundance edition in January, which by means of further steps towards decentralization now counts the whole world among its enthusiastic audience and thus even offered the global film community a foreshadowing of the Oscar-winning film, the heated debate about an exclusively physical edition of this year’s Berlinale came as no surprise. Similar discussions had already taken place late last summer in the US around similar decisions by the Telluride Film Festival and the NYFF. An interesting talk by Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson (Indiewire) sheds light on the central questions behind these decisions. It becomes clear that film festivals are increasingly confronted with a mission drift: Whereas in pre-pandemic times it was about presenting the most exceptional works of current filmmaking and their talents, today, especially for the gatekeeper film festivals of the annual film canon, it is just as much about providing access for all, in all places, at all times.

Film festivals – the most important market and audience access points for film culture

Tomorrow, the Sundance Film Festival, the world’s most important platform for independent film, kicks off, and with it the most significant serve for some 70 productions in search of buyers (see: Chris Lindahl/ Indiewire). For long, every conceivable precaution had been taken – including a dedicated vaccination station – to implement an onsite festival despite the pandemic situation. But due to the Omicron spread in the U.S., this was not to succeed in Park City any more than for the European Annual Kick-Off Film Festival in Rotterdam. The International Film Festival Rotterdam had already declared the move to the digital space and the restriction of the program as unavoidable just before the Christmas vacation.

As announced today at the press confeence of the Berlinale, despite the rising incidences, they had chosen a strategy that focuses on films, screenings and audiences. A concept based on equalization and a decentralization of screenings and, despite a significant increase in submissions, a program reduction to 256 feature-length and short films (340 films in 2020). In 2020, the Berlinale was the last film festival before Covid went global, and in 2021 the audience events were moved to the summer. We can be curious whether the Berlinale will succeed in defying Omicron as Berlin’s most important cultural event.

New year, new luck – film festivals in the new dual format

After a series of denials of the Berlinale to limit itself to an online offering in February, the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) follows suit today with similar news. While the IFFR had already moved its industry events such as the film market CineMart and the Rotterdam Lab into the digital space, they seem to be sticking to an on-site edition despite the pandemic developments worsening because of the Omikron variant. Sundance, too, had already presented its screening concept with the three pillars in person/on-site, online and satellite screenings, a concept that in the meantime has also been adopted by the kick-off of the German film festival season, the Filmfest Max Ophüls Preis.

HessenFilm affirms innovative strength of film festivals in the crisis

According to Managing Director Anna Schoeppe, the film festivals in Hessen have once again impressed with numerous „creative and forward-looking ideas and approaches“. Against this background, it seems more than strategically sensible to place the Hessian film festival landscape on a solid and future-proof basis and consequently to strengthen it again with a higher budget. The aspect of fair pay and thus targeted countermeasures to the often prevailing precarious working conditions are in the foreground. This is an important step, especially in light of the growing shortage of skilled workers in the film festival and cinema sector.

Förderfonds de⁺ Goethe-Institut launches new funding program for film festivals

In cooperation with the German Foreign Office, the Goethe-Institut is launching a new funding program for film festivals in Germany with an international focus. The Förderfonds de⁺ supports festivals that have an international profile or would like to develop one. The total amount of funding is 200,000 euros per year, and an external jury decides on the award in two rounds of calls for proposals each year. Film festivals and film institutions based in Germany are eligible to apply. The deadline for applications is November 15, 2021.
Information on application, funding guidelines, deadlines here

Film Culture Check for the Bundestag Election: 8 Questions to 7 Parties on the Future of Cinema and Film Culture

The Initiative Future Cinema+Film (IZK+F), an alliance of professional associations, interest groups and networks in film culture and the film industry, had asked seven political parties eight questions about their visions of the future of cinema and film culture, so-called Wahlprüfsteine. The questions take a critical look at a cinema situation characterized by disruptive change and, with the demand for more artistic diversity in German film, point to a necessary paradigm shift. The questions and answers in German can be found here
as well as an overview of the positions can be found here

Film festivals back as meeting places for film lovers as for filmmakers

While the Berlinale Summer Special with 16 open-air venues (June 9-20) was celebrated as a summer fairy tale even before the first screening, while Cannes made surprising concessions to gender parity at the festival, which was postponed until July 6-17, and Tribecca prepared to extend its presence to the entire city of New York for the first time from June 9-20, Austria sent audiences and creatives alike into a veritable festival frenzy with a festival trifecta (Vienna Independent Short, Crossing Europe Linz, Diagonale Film Festival Graz) from late May to mid-June.
A conversation with Christine Dollhofer on the 18th edition of Crossing Europe in June 2021 (here).

Hollywood Foreign Press Association white to the core

Even though the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a the small circle of about 90 journalists with a California residency who award the Golden Globe every year, has been the subject of numerous scandals, it now seems that the privileged closed club can no longer legitimize its claim to power.  For a long time, attempts had been made to evade movements in the film industry in the context of me too and black live matters, even as the Oscars so White movement caused far-reaching changes. However, the Los Angeles Times‘ finding that none of the 86 HFPA members is black had now led to unmistakable criticism in the industry.