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FIAD Secretary General emphasises vital role of film distributors for the European film sector

FIAD’s Secretary General – Robert Heslop - participated in a panel discussion on “Online findability of content” organised by the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Before touching upon issues related to content findability and technologies used within the film sector, Robert reminded the audience of EU policy makers, representatives of the EU Member States and stakeholders within the film sector the fundamental role played by film distributors for the whole value chain, in promoting films and ensuring that European and non-national films circulate.

It was emphasised that film distributors embrace new technologies and leverage innovative means to promote films to diverse audiences and connect films to audiences through a variety of VOD providers.

For example, FIAD's Belgian member - Film Matters Belgium - is cooperating with Cinemapp, a mobile and web application that aggregates legal offerings of films in Belgium (both at the cinema and home entertainment) to improve the findability of content and connect films with audiences. Expected to launch in December 2021, the ambition is for the app to become the go to place for audiences for find how they can watch the film they want!

Whilst welcoming the increase in VOD providers across Europe as a new way to garner revenues from films, the audience was informed that the financial pillar for film distributors remains the theatrical release. The success of a film at its theatrical release heavily influences its success in other windows. A successful theatrical release leads to remuneration through the entire film chain.

At the same time, it was noted that there are disadvantages and challenges associated with new technologies. Foremost amongst these is the growth of online piracy and the audience was reminded that the Digital Services Act could support efforts to tackle piracy, if the Know Your Business Customer principle was expanded for example.

Moreover, the AVMSD has put in place obligations on media service providers to give prominence to European works. However, the AVMSD is still to be implemented fully across the EU. Thus, it is too early to tell how prominent European and non-national films will be on platforms. There is often a lack of transparency in how the algorithm functions on VOD providers to make a certain work “prominent” and more clarity on this is sought.

Regarding the use of AI for translation, it was stated that whilst digital tools and AI technology for subtitling/dubbing might help in the future the AI is not yet at the level to curate dialogues as human translation and adaptation does.

Photos attributed to Daniel Novakovic/ STA


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