There is life beyond the movie theaters. The Sitges Festival also functions as a stage for seminars that the professional sector makes the most of to meet. Last Monday there where two parallel encounters, held thanks to the impulse of Catalan Films, the promotional agency for the Catalan audiovisual industry in the international market, with a constant presence at film festivals around the world.
The first, entitled Internet and Europe: challenges and opportunities for our cinema and organized in collaboration with the Filmin platform, was focused on the evolution of the distribution and consumption audiovisual products since the inrush of video on demand (VoD), the a la carte contents platforms that exist online. The speakers highlighted the opportunity that VoD means for filmmaker and producers, seeing that it allows them to increase and make the exploitation of films more profitable. “We have to leave the traditional approaches to distribution behind” Sitges Festival director, Ángel Sala, maintained during his introduction to the talk, that included the collaboration of the Media program and Filmotech, a streaming cinema gateway.
Filmin director Jaume Ripoll described an apocalyptic landscape marked by films that don’t recoup the investment, public subsidies that never actually arrive and festivals that are forced to dissolve. “VoD can bring a little light to this world of darkness”, Ripoll commented. His project was founded four years ago, as the result of a strategic alliance between nine Spanish independent film distributors (Alta Films, Avalon, Cameo, El Deseo, Golem, Tornasol, Wanda Visión, Versus and Vértigo). Ripoll spoke of the need to “protect indiecinema in the salvage Internet market” and said that “you can’t consider a product to be just for indie geeks”, because it has “an enormous potential audience”. The director of Filmin explored new models of distribution simultaneous to exploitation in cinemas, and urged people not to be afraid, since it could offer new opportunities for movies premiering with few copies or that have a reduced commercial career.
Another proposal was to establish group initiatives on a European level, like the development of the EuroVoD network, which brings together online distribution platforms from eight countries: France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland, Finland, Poland and Spain. Its coordinator, Dragoslav Zachariev, attended this conference, as well as guests from the rest of Europe, like Jean-Yves Bloch (UniversCiné France), Maxime Lacour (UniversCiné Belgium), Harald Baur (from the German distribution company Arsenal) and Andrew Low (from the Irish Element Pictures), who explained the VoD situation in their respective markets.
In the afternoon, Sitges held the 4th Videogame and Audiovisual Production Conference, organized by Catalan Films and Televisió de Catalunya. Some of the most relevant personalities and companies in digital leisure passed by the Festival to explore collaboration with the film sector, like the vice-president of the Academy of Interactive Sciences, Gonzo Suárez, or the person responsible for the Gamelab fair, Iván Lobo. The session was opened by the director of the Catalan Institute of Cultural Industries (ICIC), Fèlix Riera, who acknowledged “the current uncertainty regarding the satisfactory exploitation of investments in videogames”, but recommended “developing synergies between fantastic cinema and the videogame”, considering that they cannot live with their backs to each other”.
Representatives from national and international companies like Ubisoft, Mercury Steam, Abylight or Bittoon Games, as well as digital leisure development representatives from Catalan TV Televisió de Catalunya, who have been investing in videogames for years.