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Highlights - 13/02/2015
European Film Market: interview with Matthijs Wouter Knol
Matthijs Wouter Knol, director of the European Film Market (EFM) in Berlin since June 2014, answers our questions about the first international market of the year, opened to series for the first time.
What distinguishes the EFM in Berlin from the Cannes Film Market? Is the Berlinale more European and Cannes more international?
The EFM is linked to a festival that is more diverse and open to the public, where industry platforms are organised alongside film screenings. Such platforms include the Berlinale Co-production Market, the World Cinema Fund and Berlinale Talents, of which I have been the director for the last six years. The EFM takes place in Berlin, an extremely dynamic metropolitan city particularly in the areas of media and film. There are many great opportunities in Berlin, a city with a very specialised film infrastructure, administrations and many funding structures.
Of course, there are more French people at Cannes and more Germans at the Berlinale but the EFM isn't restricted to Europe just because it has the word ‘European’ in its name.
Who takes part in the EFM?
We are expecting around 8,000 people this year. Today, one week from the opening of the EFM, more people have registered than at the same time last year [This interview took place on 28/01/2015]. Our market accommodates stands operated by distributors and sales companies. There are a lot of producers and purchasers, from across the whole of Europe and the rest of the world, as well as many cinema exhibitors, who discover in advance the titles the distributors will offer during the year. Many organisations that support the cinema financially also attend. In fact, the entire film industry is represented at the EFM.
Where are most of the participants from? Has this changed much in recent years?
As with the other markets, there are many European and American participants in the EFM. The number of participants has greatly increased over the last decade, hence the move of the EFM to Martin-Gropius-Bau in 2006 and the use of the Marriott Hotel from 2009 onwards. This year, there has been a slight increase in the number of exhibitors and in the number of countries represented. Some exhibitors from countries that have always been represented are actually having a stand this year. For example, Bulgaria is having a stand at Martin-Gropius-Bau and the Arabic Cinema Center is going to share a stand with a group of representatives from different Arab countries.
This year you are launching 'Drama Series Days'. Do these new initiatives open up the market to other types of company, to other sectors?
The objective of initiatives of this type is, of course, to attract new sectors to the market. With this new initiative, for example, we are opening the market to series. In this way we will attract more buyers, series producers and institutions that provide support for series. Scandinavians, who already attended in numbers, will be well represented.
And what are the nationalities of the films dominating the market?
The EFM shows between 750 and 800 films at over 1,000 screenings. This year, we have over 500 premières.
The nationalities of the films match the nationalities of the exhibitors. Many films come from the United States, Germany, France and Spanish-speaking countries. This year there will be a lot of films from Latin America and a strong Asian presence.
What new trends are you seeing in the market?
Over and above the market analysis, the EFM tries to act as a source of information and discussion. The EFM has to be a place for dialogue, where the industry can find solutions together and learn from each other.
To refer again to the example of 'Drama Series Days', series are mainly shown via the internet, not just through Netflix, but through other platforms too. Therefore the EFM does not focus exclusively on cinemas but it also covers alternative platforms. We are not taking a stand but we want to create an environment of a dialogue, where participants reflect on plans for 2015. As director of the EFM, it is not simply a matter of opening and closing the market doors but also of reflecting on the needs and expectations of our different visitors and of developing the market accordingly.
And finally, a more personal question: what do you like about European films?
I like European films for their diversity of language and culture. Despite their familiarity, there is always something new to discover about European films. I grew up in the Netherlands where films are screened in their original version both at the cinema and on television. I've been living in Germany for seven years now and I make sure I see films in their original version.
Christine Westermann, February 2015
Pictures: Lia Darjes (top) & Oliver Möst (bottom)