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CANNES 2019 Marché du Film

The EAO’s 2019 Cannes conference focuses on film financing


- CANNES 2019: There was a strong call for collaboration at the European Audiovisual Observatory’s event held during the Marché du Film at Cannes

The EAO’s 2019 Cannes conference focuses on film financing
(l-r) Pilar Benito Peña (Morena Films), Victor Hadida (CEO Metropolitan Filmexport/president FIAD), Aude Accary-Bonnery (CNC), Michael Gubbins (moderator), Edith Sepp (Estonian Film Institute), Lucia Recalde Langarica (MEDIA) and Anders Kjaerhauge (Zentropa) (© Birgit Heidsiek)

The structure of film financing and how public policies affect said funding in Europe were the key topics under discussion at the European Audiovisual Observatory’s 2019 Cannes conference, which took place as part of the Marché du Film. “There has never been such high demand for audiovisual works,” stated Victor Hadida, CEO of Metropolitan Filmexport and president of the International Federation of Film Distributors' Associations (FIAD). “The digital world has changed the face of financing and the audience.” Platforms that were investing €8 billion are able to come up with €19 billion nowadays. “All of the big platforms are looking for exclusivity.” In France, where about 700 films are released theatrically every year, the number of tickets sold for a single movie has halved in the last ten years.

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The film financing activities of Spanish production outfit Morena Films, which produced the 2018 Cannes opening film Everybody Knows [+see also:
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 by Asghar Farhadi, are based on pre-sales and public funding. “We are looking for a new finance model,” said Pilar Benito Peña, CEO of Morena Films. “It is difficult to recoup the investment.” Although there is a healthy number of TV series, the production companies don’t keep the rights to them.

“We can still find a way to finance a film if we develop good content,” Anders Kjaerhauge, managing director of Zentropa, pointed out. “The best way is for people not to think about whether it is an arthouse or a commercial film.” Zentropa’s business model is still based on public funding. “We want to keep making those ‘non-algorithm films’.” However, there is a challenge in terms of development because many films don’t even reach the screen. “Development is important,” underlined Kjaerhauge, “but it is not part of the platform policy.” 

Meanwhile, smaller countries such as Estonia are reaping the benefits of the changes in the market. “Tastes are changing,” emphasised Edith Sepp, director of the Estonian Film Institute. “We never used to have sales agents picking up Estonian films. The big platforms target the audience with very specific demands.” Netflix is already available in 19 European countries. “In France, there are 340,000 people working in the film industry,” underlined Aude Accary-Bonnery, deputy managing director of Strategy and Control at the CNC. “We keep fighting for our principles.”

The challenge for the industry is to keep up with the ever-accelerating pace of change, as Lucia Recalde Langarica, head of unit at MEDIA, pointed out. “We need more flexibility and have to identify the trends,” she said, referring to upcoming platforms from Apple and Disney that may lead to mergers, concentration and convergence. “In Europe, we need collaboration,” she said. “We need to think how we can complement each other better.”

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