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Activities - 12/08/2009

 

Locarno: meeting with Europa Cinemas focusing on the move to digital

 

 

On the initiative of the Swiss Media Desk, within the scope of the Locarno Festival, on 8 August Europa Cinemas met around sixty professionals, distributors and exhibitors, in particular network members in Switzerland.  ____________________________________

This meeting, which was moderated by Rachel Schmid (Head of Swiss Media Desk), brought together Claude-Eric Poiroux (Director General, Europa Cinemas), Emilie Boucheteil (Head of Young Audiences, Europa Cinemas) and Laurent Steiert (film distribution and promotion, Federal Office of Culture).

Echoing current thinking in Switzerland on this topic, Claude-Eric Poiroux reminded those present that the new digital technologies first must allow the primacy of the exhibition place to be reaffirmed and facilitate distribution of what are mainly European film productions. The high cost of this investment can however pose a threat to the most fragile companies and the small national markets. Solidarity between distributors and exhibitors is essential to ensure this move to digital is a success in the interest of all concerned. The professionals in attendance also stressed the need for greater involvement by the film producers and film exporters in this chain. Claude-Eric Poiroux cited the possibility for the independents who do not belong to the multinational groups to build up a specific fund enabling them to receive the contribution from the exhibitors and distributors, as well as from the authorities, locally or nationally, in order to pool their investments and make it possible for the entire independent sector to move forward as a group in this switch to digital and to benefit from an egalitarian economic model. This presupposes a debate on a national scale between the different protagonists.

Laurent Steiert pointed out that this coordination already exists within a committee gathering professionals and swiss federal authorities. He believes it is important to explain to the general public and policy makers that some cinemas could disappear because they will not find the resources for digital on their own. Hence, the interest to lead the discussion on the cultural level so that the competent courts, cantons, regions and communes assume their own particular role of responsibility in this move. In Switzerland, there is also the intention to try to find solutions to guarantee exhibitors access to 35mm prints during this period.

We also need to take advantage of the arrival of these new technologies to target the young, responsive audiences in this respect who sometimes forget about the cinema in favour of their own small screens. Hence, the mission by Europa Cinemas to encourage network exhibitors to develop the focus of their work on targeting children, teenagers and students. Its Young Audience funding aims to stimulate cinemas to implement a policy of education on the moving image based around European films in order to renew its audience and to attract the younger people to the big screen.

In conclusion, it was pointed out that the MEDIA programme is not absent from the digital debate. A European-scale committee is considering the various funding options to be offered to exhibitors who invest in digital for European cinema. This is, moreover, a mechanism, which is already working within Europa Cinemas since a bonus is allotted to those cinemas screening European films in 2K.
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Please refer to the Guidelines and the Europa Cinemas Young Audience information site.
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Swiss MEDIA Desk
http://www.mediadesk.ch/index.php?language=en
Federal Office of Culture
http://www.nb.admin.ch/bak/index.html?lang=en
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Contact at Europa Cinemas:
Lucas Varone - lvarone at europa-cinemas.org
Emilie Boucheteil - eboucheteil at europa-cinemas.org