European Audio Visual Observatory plans workshop

Digital cinema comes under the spotlight of the European Audio Visual Observatory in a Cannes Film Festival workshop next month open free of charge to all market participants.

The critical debate on the cost of funding the digitizaton of cinemas throughout Europe will be discussed by industry analysts in “Digital Cinema Tango! Getting the right rythym for the digitization of European cinemas.”

The afternoon conference — at the Salle Bunuel in the Palais des Festivals on May 16 — will concentrate on how digitization will impact all industry players, not only exhibitors and cinema operators.

Wolfgang Closs, director of Strasbourg, France-based EU body, said: “We feel that it’s imperative to address the financing of the digitization of cinemas in Europe. It’s the big debate in the cinema industry at the moment and concerns all the players, from producers, through to distributors and exhibitors — right along the chain.”

Although major chains were keen to roll the process out, smaller independent cinema owners were facing major financial challenges to keep up, Closs said.

“There is a clear problem of synchronization of movement: the market is now going very fast, but the public policies necessary to support the transition for small cinemas are quite slow, due to complex legal issues.”

Speakers at the afternoon conference — expected to be attended by upwards of 300 people — will include Martin Kanzler, the Observatory’s cinema analyst, who will look at 2009 box-office trends, Elisabetta Brunella of Media Salles, who will analyze digital roll out in Europe last year, and Susan Newman of the Observatory who will explain what public funding is available for supporting the digitization of cinemas.

Other speakers will address legal issues, and the challenges, opportunities and threats that digitization presents.

Confirmed speakers include Ian Christie, VP Europa Cinemas, Christine Eloy of Europa Distribution, Aviva Silver, head of the EU’s Media Program, and Antoine Virenque, president of the European Digital Cinema Forum.

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