News / Highlights


Highlights - 22/05/2008


Jeffrey Koh, Festive Films, Singapor


Since 2004, Europa Cinemas has extended its activities into Latin America and Asia with the non-MEDIA programme. This programme, aimed in a complementary way at both distributors and theatres, has encountered growing success. In distribution, 35 releases of European films were supported in 2006, over 31 in 2005 and 18 in 2004, and the number of releases aided by the programme should top the mark once more in 2007. Let's not forget that distributors may receive support covering one half of their release costs to a maximum of €12,000. Support to theatres has also grown continuously, with 18 releases supported in 2005 and 83 in 2006. As soon as an exhibitor programmes a European films for at least 2 weeks, he may receive a maximum support of €1,500 per film.
Setting up a support system for distributing European films in these countries brings very real benefits, as shown by the 3 articles on these pages. And as of 2008 this support should increase once again. Not only has the budget allocated to the programme been increased (almost doubled between 2006 and 2008), MEDIA has also launched a call for proposals for the Preparatory action MEDIA International which will notably allow beneficiaries to establish complementary activities with a view not only to disseminating European cinema abroad, but also international films in the MEDIA countries.
Finally, the cherry on the cake, Europa Cinemas has decided to incorporate the Ciné Municipal 6 de Agosto, in La Paz. A single screen theatre with 580 seats now under renovation and managed by La Oficilia Mayor de Culturas, the sole alternative distribution theatre in the Bolivian capital will soon be supported by Europa Cinemas in the framework of the MAEE (French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs) programme.
Europa Cinemas: How did you learn about the Europa Cinemas program?
Jeffrey Koh: We came into contact with the program during Toronto several years ago.
How does it help you to release European movies?
The market for high quality European films in Singapore is growing but they are still not as popular as the Hollywood blockbusters, which dominate the local theatrical exhibition scene. The support from the Europa Cinemas program is thus instrumental in helping us strenghten our marketing and P&A efforts to increase consumer awareness of the European films we've brought into Singapore.
How many movies have you released under that program?
So far, we have released 4 films under the program: Michael Haneke's Hidden, Stephen Frears' Mrs Henderson Presents, Guillermo De Toro's Pan's Labyrinth and the Omnibus film, Paris Je T'aime. In 2008, we have since applied for Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud's Persepolis, and Woody Allen's Cassandra's Dream.
Would you have released these movies without the support of the program?
In the first place, Singapore suffers from a lack of purely arthouse cinemas. With the increasingly competitive landscape of commercial film distribution in Singapore, it is rarely viable for an independent film distributor like Festive Films to bring in quality European films. Without the support of the program, it will be that much more diffcult to level the playing fields with the stronger muscles of the studios. So yes, eventually, we may stop releasing these movies if there is no support rendered like the one now by Europa Cinemas.
If you had something to change in that program, what would that be?
Europa Cinemas has so far rendered excellent support to us. Most notably, we are greatly appreciative of the prompt, patient and professional liaison/coordination provided us by this program's main contact, Ms Julia Salles.