MEDIA day 2015. Image courtesy of the European Commission

A year of MEDIA 25th anniversary celebrations begins at Berlin

Hundreds of producers, directors and audiovisual professionals attended the annual MEDIA Day held at the Berlinale on 15 February. On the occasion of this first European Film Forum of 2016, the day’s discussions focused on digital innovation, highlighting a selection of state-of-the-art Creative Europe-supported projects and European Commission initiatives relating to new models in online distribution, film promotion, the societal impact of documentary and curbing illegal downloading. 

The first panel discussion showcased three projects funded by Creative Europe’s Online Distribution scheme. Alongside Walk this Way (France) and IFFR Live (Netherlands), Philip Mordecai from the UK’s Curzon Home Cinema demonstrated that European films can thrive through semi-simultaneous releases in cinemas and online. Through Curzon Home Cinema, they are able to showcase films in this way, and 2015 alone saw more than 60 day-and-date releases. The panel emphasised how context, marketing and a creative community are key to successful online distribution. 

The societal impact of documentary was the next point of discussion. An engaging panel included Timescapes producer Emmy Oost, developing a slate of social documentary projects for a range of platforms, One World Human Rights film festival organiser Eva Rybkova, and Beadi Finzi from BRITDOC, who spoke about Good Pitch, their flagship Creative Europe-funded project. Good Pitch connects independent documentary filmmakers with NGOs, policy makers, campaigners and broadcasters, through workshops, mentoring, partnering and events. 

The topics of debate of the European Film Forum included discoverability and new methods of film promotion, illegal downloading, subtitled content, and data,. Currently around one third of film content on European TV channels and VOD platforms is European. Several suggestions were put forward about how European film could be better promoted including improvements to funding for longform content, licensing hubs and innovative and imaginative marketing models. 

The day was rounded off with an evening reception, which kicked off the 25th anniversary celebrations of the MEDIA programme. This year, Creative Europe’s MEDIA sub-programme not only celebrates a record-breaking number of applications in 2015, but also looks back at over two and half decades of supporting European films and audiovisual projects. 

Photo: MEDIA day 2015. Image courtesy of the European Commission