Promoting European films in Busan and Moscow

Columns

During the month of October, European Film Promotion covers two key events. Held concurrently with the 19th Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) in South Korea, the Asian Film Market has developed into “the most important film event in Asia in the autumn,” according to Nicolai Korsgaard, sales manager at TrustNordisk (Denmark). Part of the record-breaking lineup–Market booths jumped from 172 to 223 as badge holders increased 23% to 1,566–was an equally new record set of 49 European films from 17 countries receiving EFP Film Sales Support there. Doubling the number of films from 2013, EFP earmarked €132,700 (US$169,000) for their marketing.

The MEDIA Programme-funded initiative had to enlarge its umbrella stand to accommodate 38 film sales companies and seven EFP member organizations (Film Center Serbia, Film Fund Luxembourg, German Films, Istituto Luce Cinecittà, Polish Film Institute, Slovenian Film Centre and uniFrance Films). Overall, the Asian Film Market screened 85 films from 15 countries in 96 shows that included 17 BIFF titles and 67 market premieres.

Moscow was next on the European film promotion tour as EFP supported the second annual “Westwind” showcase, bringing ten European films from as many countries and some of their talent to Russian audiences. The opening-night film–Olivier Assayas’ star-studded U.S.-French co-production Clouds of Sils Maria–will also be shown at ShowEast. The Russian jury members selected films that “cover the diversity of new European cinema, ranging from entertaining romantic comedies through historical and psychological dramas to political East European features,” EFP said. With Germany’s Beloved Sisters (Dominik Graf’s period romance, which opens German Currents in Los Angeles) and the Czech Republic’s Fair Play (by Andrea Sedlackova), two submissions to the Foreign-Language Oscars made it on the program at the Formula Kino Horizont.

Russia on the Rise

Russian box office jumped by 13.3% in 2013 to 42.6 billion rubles ($1.3 billion, €1.26 bn.), reports IHS Cinema Intelligence based on local research by Nevafilm. Admissions held apace with a 10.4% increase to 177.1 million, reflecting a very moderate rise in ticket prices of some 2.6% to 240.3 rubles ($7.60). During the two prior years, tickets had gone up 10% and 9%.

The number of film releases has been rising as well alongside the 12.2% growth in number of screens (3,479 at 1,101 sites). Up from 324 five years ago, there were 520 first-run releases during 2013, of which 88 were Russian, with U.S. studio titles accounting for a 68.9% share. The almost complete digitization of 85% at year’s end “is also evident in the release patterns of films,” noted David Hancock, director, film and cinema, at IHS Technology, “with 99.6% of films being made available in digital format, compared to 29.6% in 2009.” The full copy of his report is available from technology.ihs.com.

Kinoton Emphasizes Continuity

From Germering, Germany, newly formed Kinoton Digital Solutions continues to strengthen its international sales and customer-support organization. Christoph Baur joined the Kinoton team, covering the south of Germany and Austria and taking care of customers in Eastern and Southern Europe. Managing director Lutz Schmidt lauded Baur’s multi-year experience in international sales. “With his help, we also intend to intensify our support for important aspects such as TMS and digital signage and for new technologies like laser light sources and immersive sound.”

Barco Captures IOSONO
After passing “the landmark of 500 planned Auro 11.1 installations” and with “a growing number of directors and producers around the world…embracing the sound format,” Barco is poised and “ready to take immersive sound to the next level.” To that end, the company secured the assets and team of Germany’s 3D audio experts at Iosono GmbH. Founded in Erfurt in 2004, the company specializes in object-based sound rendering in various professional applications, including cinema, by incorporating distance data into the planning process. “We have been involved with making immersive sound for motion pictures before any other company in the market,” said Olaf Stepputat, the new director of Barco Audio Technologies and former head of Iosono. “Adding our capabilities to Barco’s will create a compelling system which will create a listening experience unparalleled in the industry.”

Creative Europe Awards Audience Initiatives
Funds totaling €1.8 million (US$2.29 mil.) were awarded to 16 initiatives as part of an “increased focus” on Audience Development by Creative Europe, a sub-program of the European Union’s MEDIA support. “The scheme aims to stimulate interest in, and improve access to, European audiovisual works,” the mission goes, “in particular through film-literacy initiatives, showcasing events and festivals.”

Nine projects sharing over €1 million were selected under the “Film Literacy” strand to “promote better cooperation between film-literacy initiatives to improve their efficiency and their European dimension. Recipients include ABCinema, Children’s Film First, Doc Alliance Academy, Moving Cinema and Fred at School. Additional initiatives aim to establish a European Children’s Film Catalogue & Related Film Literacy Activities, with hopes to launch European film club pilots in schools and other education and care establishments. This European Framework for Film Education will set out to establish “a common set of methods in order to create greater coherence in the ways that film education is approached across Europe.”

The second support strand covered seven “Audience Development Events” such as Eye to Eye (E²), a network of distributors, film festivals, exhibitors and VoD platforms sharing information on promotional material, theatrical release strategies and marketing ideas. Similarly, organizations from Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Norway and Regional Screen Scotland will bring their existing outreach together in a Europe-wide context, “the spirit of which will be the promotion of, and access to, shared resources and new distribution platforms.” Giving themselves the heading of “North by Northwest—Film on the Fringe,” these five countries certainly play up the angle that they are at home “on the edge of Europe and sparsely populated.”

AAM Fuses Cinema Ads for SAWA
During the second week of October, trade organization SAWA (Screen Advertising World Association) held its biennial convention in Berlin, Germany, representing members from more than 35 countries. London-based Arts Alliance Media (AAM’s software reaches over 20,000 screens worldwide and its NOC supports more than 11,000) showcased its “revolutionary cinema advertising software” as part of their event sponsorship.

Automating the entire process, AdFuser was designed “specifically for digital cinema to increase revenue and make the cinema advertising process easier,” AAM noted. Features include “improved campaign targeting which allows brands to reach exactly the audience they want,” including cinema location, date or time of day, film genre or rating, and even nearby retail locations. Advertisers are also provided “complete visibility over when and where their ads played,” as media agencies can “benefit from improved inventory management.” With AdFuser, “they can see exactly which spots are available to sell with a real-time inventory built from the cinema’s POS system.” More information may be found here.

Arts Alliance Media also announced the interoperability of its Screenwriter TMS version 2.3 with Cinema.Reloaded, Weischer.Media’s “sophisticated and highly automated” digital-cinema advertising solution. Deployed across Germany and Switzerland, the system can receive ad feeds directly from the required ONEDCN and insert the content into the various playlists. This will position cinemas optimally, said Stefan Kuhlow, chief digital officer of Weischer.Media, for the future that “meets the needs of the advertising industry: more flexibility, transparency and accuracy.”

Film Critics Relive Boyhood
The 553 members of the International Federation of Film Critics, FIPRESCI, voted Richard Linklater’s 12-year project Boyhood as the best film of the year. While facing competition from fellow nominees Ida (by Pawel Pawlikowski), The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson) and Winter Sleep (Nuri Bilge Ceylan), “Boyhood arrived in a comfortable first place,” managing director Klaus Eder told us. Since 1999, the FIPRESCI Grand Prix has been awarded during the San Sebastian Film Festival to films by Michael Haneke, Paul Thomas Anderson, Jafar Panahi, Pedro Almodóvar, Jean-Luc Godard and Ceylan, among others.