Magazine article Screen International

We Need Our Curators

Magazine article Screen International

We Need Our Curators

Article excerpt

The digital universe that is poised to transform ancillary rights may not be a good thing for smaller and arthouse titles which rely on a rigorous system of curation to find their audiences.

The Berlin International Film Festival, which winds up its 62nd edition this weekend, offered a better than average lineup of films in competition including standouts like Barbara from Christian Petzold, Tabu from Miguel Gomes, Caesar Must Die from the Tavianis and A Royal Affair from Nikolaj Arcel. The EFM, which took place down the road from the Berlinalepalast at the Martin Gropius Bau and at the hotels around Potsdamer Platz, was also solid with heat and sales around new films by Brian DePalma and Steven Soderbergh and star vehicles for Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Carrey and Jason Statham.

But if those names are the same ones which sold films a decade ago and more, the business is lurching through a change that will eventually see the pay-TV and DVD window gradually merge into one VoD platform where all manner of films will be available online.

Ironically, for all the zeal about this online future, there are signs that the US VoD market for smaller films is already getting saturated. US indies like IFC Films and Magnolia Pictures, which pioneered the theatrical/VoD day-and-date strategies, are now competing for audiences with Tribeca Film, the TWC-backed Radius platform and other startups. IFC recently scaled back its programme of straight-to-VoD releases and is now refocusing on day-and-date releases which have a theatrical component. On its Dardennes brothers film The Kid With A Bike, it's starting with theatrical only and leaving VoD till later - a step back to older traditions. For the straight-to-VoD concept, the audiences just weren't finding the films and buying them.

The fact is that many smaller titles can only find their audience if they go through the series of trusted curatorial hands and platforms that exist today. …

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