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Highlights - 08/02/2013
Interview with Beki Probst, Head of the European Film Market in Berlin
Beki Probst has been the head of the Berlinale’s European Film Market for 20 years. She is also a film theatre exhibitor in Bern and a member of the network (cineMovie and cineCamera) . She was recently awarded the Prix d’Honneur at the 48th Solothurn Film Festival for her commitment to Swiss cinema. We spoke to her on the occasion of the 63rd Berlinale (7 to 17 February 2013).
What can you tell us about your work as an exhibitor in Bern?
Our exhibition company Quinnie owns a number of cinemas in Switzerland: cineABC, cine Bubenberg, Cineclub, CineCamera and Cinemovie in Bern. Just CineCamera (1 screen) and CineMovie (3 screens) are part of the Europa Cinemas network. These film theatres focus mainly on European art-housecinema, while the others offer more accessible films aimed at a wider audience.
My work in Berlin helps me with the programming of the cinemas. I attend other festivals and stay in permanent contact with Swiss distributors (Filmcoopi, Frenetic, Look Now, Pathé, and more). We are always on the look-out for new films with potential for our theatres.
2012 was an excellent year in terms of attendance in Switzerland compared to the two previous years.
What can you tell us about your audience?
Regular visitors to our cinemas often come without deciding in advance which film they want to see. They know that they will find something they like on the billboard
We have managed to develop the loyalty of this audience by organising special events, such as our lunchtime previews (Lunchkino) at a reduced admission price. It is essential for us to “reward” our audiences by offering them events like this.
Our audience is fairly mixed. Older people often come in the afternoon to see more specialised films appropriate for their age group (AMOUR by Michael Haneke, BLANCANIEVES by Pablo Berger). However, we are also getting to appeal to younger audiences, as it is the case at the moment with the film OH BOY for example.
We do not organise screenings exclusively devoted to young audiences.;distributors take care of this. Last year the distribution company Elite organised screenings of the Swiss film THE FOSTER BOY by Markus Imboden aimed at the youngest , and Look Now is currently offering screenings of the Swiss documentary THORBERG by Dieter Fahrer. Distributors do an excellent job in arranging for relevant names to come and take part in debates.
You played a key role in developing the European Film Market. How do you see it against the background of other markets?
It is the first market of the year and the third largest in the world. It runs parallel to the festival and 8,000 participants are expected to attend this edition.
Since I started working for the film market in 1988 it has relocated twice, as the event has grown substantially. Today it is held in the Martin-Gropius-Bau (MGB), just a few minutes’ walk from Potsdamer Platz, where the festival takes place. There is a real synergy between the festival and the market.
Our market is a must-go event for film industry professionals that is not to be missed. Every year producers, distributors, sellers and buyers attend, engaging interesting discussions on forthcoming films.
Although we do not make any particular selection, priority is given to feature films. This year we are offering around 800 films, 584 out of which will be at a market for the first time
Is there a special place reserved for documentaries?
Since 2009 we have been working in partnership with the European Documentary Network. This year will be presented a selection of documentaries from the IDFA and DOK Leipzig.
What recent developments have there been?
Every year we try to improve the way the market works with the help of satisfaction surveys conducted by McKinsey. We noticed that first-time visitors seem a little bit lost. This year we are organising a meeting on the first day of the festival, which will be open to everyone, to explain visitors how the event works.
In addition, an increasing number of distributors from Asia and Latin America are attending the event.
By Flora Anavi