Magazine article Screen International

EFM Boss Defends 2014 Market

Magazine article Screen International

EFM Boss Defends 2014 Market

Article excerpt

EXCLUSIVE: Beki Probst, head of Berlin's European Film Market (EFM), has hit back at claims that the 2014 edition was "sluggish" or "lukewarm" while the Berlinale Co-Production Market has handed out its awards.

Probst, who has run the EFM since 1988, was responding to reports of a quieter market.

"I think that there was a good movement of business this year," she said in an exclusive interview with ScreenDaily.

"Daphné Kapfer of Europa International representing 35 sales agents said that it was a very good Berlin, and Glen Basner of FilmNation commented that it was 'the best Berlin'.

"Even Harvey Weinstein came just for 24 hours to sign a $7m cheque, and Aloft was bought by Sony Pictures Classics.

"It's the players, and not the market, that is important. The players come here if they have the right line-up. All we can do is provide the best infrastructure, but what happens after that is up to them."

In the opinion of Probst, there had been a muddying of the distinction between the EFM and the more general term of the 'market'.

Sales agents were not sitting idle at their stands if one takes the example of one company in the Martin Gropius Bau: the CEO met with 90 buyers and the members of staff responsible for marketing had no less than 180 meetings in addition to ad-hoc discussions at events in the evenings.

While past editions of the Berlinale had seen films like A Separation and Gloria causing a buzz amongst EFM participants as well as the festival-goers, this year had seen particular attention centring on such films as the Competition titles Stations Of The Cross (Kreuzweg) and '71 as well as the Panorama's The Circle, according to Probst.

Too many films

Probst observed there were a glut of titles and said: "One thing is for sure and that is that there are too many films out there, and one asks where they will all end up. Will it be VoD or download only?

"I know from my own experience as a cinema-owner that there are too many films trying to get on to the screens. Every week, it is a hassle."

She also pointed out that the festival and EFM were both conscious of the need to address changes in the market and this had been one of the reasons for holding a debate on new developments with such players as UFA Fiction's Nico Hofmann, Magnolia Pictures' Christina Rogers and Watchever's Stefan Schulz.

Probst said that she had discussed these changes with colleagues including Venice's Alberto Barbera, Cannes' Jerome Paillard and Toronto's Piers Handling and suggested that the best way to meet the new challenges would be to integrate the new developments into existing market structures.

Renovated Zoo Palast

The Zoo Palast passed its first year as an EFM venue with flying colours as both festival-goers and market participants enthused about the comfort and decor of the renovated cinema complex.

"Many of the people attending the market screenings at the Zoo Palast were going there because they wanted to see specific titles," Probst explained.

"Several of the companies were having private screenings which were invitation only and where they knew who would be coming. It is good to have these extra five screens at the Zoo Palast as an alternative because we couldn't have so many private screenings at venues at Potsdamer Platz."

She added that some people were put off making the trip from Potsdamer Platz to the Zoo Palast by the distance, but this 'psychological block' apparently also exists for many EFM delegates when they want to get to the Martin Gropius Bau. …

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