Venice 2021 – Venice Production Bridge
Industry Report: Distribution, Exhibition and Streaming
In CICAE’s view, the arthouse sector’s main challenge in 2021 is still bringing viewers back to theatres
VENICE 2021: The panel, entitled “Strategies for the Arthouse Industry in the Post-pandemic Era”, was held in the Hotel Excelsior’s Spazio Incontri on 3 September
On 3 September, the Hotel Excelsior’s Spazio Incontri hosted a panel entitled “Strategies for the Arthouse Industry in the Post-pandemic Era”, organised by CICAE during this year’s Venice Production Bridge (2-7 September 2021) and moderated by Variety correspondent Nick Vivarelli. The discussion saw the participation of CICAE president Christian Bräuer, European Film Academy (EFA) director Matthijs Wouter Knol, Film Forum deputy director Sonya Chung, and Committee on Culture and Education MEP Salima Yenbou, as well as head of European Affairs and Italian Movies at DG Cinema and Audiovisual and EFAD representative Bruno Zambardino. Policy officer of Creative Europe - MEDIA Maria Silvia Gatta attended the event remotely.
After Vivarelli introduced the panel’s objectives to explore “ways to bring viewers back to the movies” and to bring about “more diversity and inclusion within the movies and, possibly, within the movie theatres”, the floor was given to Gatta. In her speech, Gatta highlighted that the health crisis pushed for experimentation “at all levels, including virtual cinemas”, proving the sector’s “spirit of co-operation” and the exhibitors’ commitment to finding creative, innovative ways “to embrace technology in their business practices”. “After 18 months, it’s something we can look back at with some interest and pride,” she added. Gatta also stressed Creative Europe’s mission to produce more diverse content for larger audiences, capable of addressing the whole of European society, and this must happen despite the challenges of not having a dominant culture or language within our borders.
Wouter Knol spoke about the EFA’s next steps – in particular, the body’s commitment to pursuing several audience-development and film-education projects, including the setup of European film clubs, through which teenagers will be able to access European titles in schools and theatres, as well as other well-established initiatives such as 27 Times Cinema and the Young Audience Award.
Zambardino spoke about three main courses of action. The first step is to rethink the theatrical release window, owing to the growing role of platforms. The second is the necessity to keep on backing independent theatres in order “to protect cultural diversity”, whilst the third is to promote film education so as to bring younger generations to the cinemas. Speaking about the measures implemented nationally, he also mentioned an extra allocation of €120 million to open new theatres, or expand or renovate older ones, explaining that funding has been awarded on the basis of venue type, programming and geographical location.
Meanwhile, Chung said, “Business has been pretty good since cinemas reopened” in the spring. Speaking about some US trends, she explained that “classics have been doing better at the box office” than new releases and how “escapist films” keep on attracting the masses looking for comfort during these difficult times.
Bräuer admitted, “There is a rocky road ahead, as we’re still in the midst of the pandemic,” and said that “innovation is an everyday process”. “Usually, we’re not competitors; perhaps we can compete within the same city, but in general, we can learn a lot from each other,” he added. In his opinion, co-operation among arthouse players must be the focus of the sector’s recovery along with curation and communication with audiences.
The panel was rounded off by a quick Q&A session and Yenbou’s closing remarks.
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