Arab film promotion and distribution discussed in Paris

Arab film professionals met to discuss how to best distribute the region's films at the Imag'IMA film festival

Events and Festivals, Programme Activities, Euromed Audiovisual News

Arab film promotion and distribution discussed in Paris

The Euromed Audiovisual programme held a conference on Arab film promotion and distribution around the world on Monday, within the context of the Paris-based Arab World Institute (Institut du Monde Arabe)'s Imag’IMA film festival from June 28 to July 3. Around 60 professionals attended.

Valerio Caruso (Euromed Audiovisual) presented the MEDIS network, the first network of distributors from the South Mediterranean, established with the support of the Euromed Audiovisual programme. This network is made up of about 30 members, and was created to facilitate the circulation of European and Arab films in the Euro-Mediterranean region, notably through the joint acquisition of films, the exchange of information and good practices.

MEDIS is not the programme's only initiative. Euromed Audiovisual's Catherine Buresi presented its catalogue of 130 recent Arab films and announced the development of an application for tablets.

“Whilst making the catalogue, we realised that an important number of films don’t have sales agents," she said. "One of the obstacles for the circulation of Arab films is the absence of international sales agents."

Lucas Rosant from the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF)'s film market discussed his experience within the festival that is essentially dedicated to Arab cinema.

Arab films barely export themselves from one country to the other and the number of south-south co-productions remains very limited. Rosant did however point out that films that were coproduced were those that were distributed the best.

Co- productions remain the most efficient way to guaranty a distribution over several territories. A regional or pan-Arabic fund, which would enhance the number of co-productions, would be the best tool to boost the circulation of films in the region.

Daniel Ziskind from Zad Communication presented his experience in the promotion and sales of Egyptian films.

According to him, promotion is an everyday job, a precise job that requires moving in professional circles and knowing their main players. The public authorities, national and European, can privilege the emergence of these professional figures that barely exist in Arab countries. He underlined in his conclusion that the problem of Southern countries is also the absence of press attaches.

The analysis of Cinando’s data, presented by Jerôme Paillard from the Cannes Film Festival Market (MIF), shows that Arab films are not under-represented compared to other parts of the world. Nevertheless, these films are not properly shown or promoted.

“For efficient promotion, it is necessary to work meticulously on emailing, personal invitations to screenings, and to constantly be working with journalists to bring these films forward,” declared the MIF director.

Paillard also spoke about the Ventana Sur market, which is an example of regional market established with the support of the MEDIA Mundus Programme and the Marché du Film.

This Latin American example shows that the sharing the same language is not a sufficient guaranty for easier film circulation. Latin American countries suffer the same circulation problems as Arabic or European countries. Co-productions are the best way for films to circulate. For this reason, Ventana Sur established a co-production market.

The conference was the opportunity to present some good practices of public policies. Jacqueline Ada from the French National Film Centre (CNC) detailed French support to the distribution of non-national films and their exploitation. Between 2011 and 2012, the CNC gave out €250,000 to support the release of 33 films, with an average of €8,000 for each film, which is a significant amount since the average cost of a film's release on 40 copies is around €100,000.

Another example of an efficient support mechanism was presented by Menem Richa from Europa Cinemas. Richa presented the results gathered over the time of the first and second Euromed Audiovisual programmes, which allowed the consolidation of the distribution and exploitation sectors. He pointed out that a film cannot be commercialised around the world without a sales agent, and that film theatres are the first exhibition spaces of a film. For Richa, the solution for the distribution and promotion of Arab films must come from the Arab world. Programmes like Euromed Audiovisual can only come to back up local initiatives.

The conference also addressed new forms of online distribution. Dragoslav Zachariev from Univercine and Eurovod showed that VoD is an expanding market. In France only, the turnover of VoD is of €200m. The biggest share is made due to the IPTV, which makes up 93% of VoD market shares in France for example. It is important for Arab producers to enter the market and to surpass any reluctance to sell the exhibition rights for VoD. The example of Belgium platform Univercine shows that, with an important Moroccan diaspora, Arab films find an attentive audience.

Several participants stressed the need to prioritise the presence of Arab producers at film markets and to help them set up a sales strategy. It is important to target film markets and festivals, unveil the film's image progressively, set up a privilegedrelationship with buyers, and organise screenings for a selection of distributors and journalists.

Many participants pointed out that it is important to support small thematic festivals, as they are a privileged setting for the discovery and promotion of Arab films and talents.





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