Utopia to sell pix on stix

Chain to load films on USB stick

BRUSSELS — Gaul’s Utopia chain of arthouse cinemas will launch a scheme mid-September to sell feature documentaries at Euros 5 ($6.30) a pop to visitors with portable memory.

Filmgoers will leave a USB stick or memory card at the ticket desk when they go into the cinema and collect their film on the way out.

Out of the $6.30, $3.79 will go to the rights holder, $1.49 to the cinema and the rest on tax.

Films will be provided in the Matroska open format, at DVD quality or in HD if the distributor allows. There will be no digital rights management control.

The “Video en poche” (Pocket Video) scheme is an attempt to enlarge the audience for films that usually travel no further than arthouse screens.

Such films are poorly served by DVD business models, Utopia explains, and are even overlooked by on-line piracy (“an ‘avatar’ of mass consumption,” it quips).

At the same time it wants to maintain an element of human contact in passing on the films.

Scheme will launch in Utopia’s seven venues in September, with an open invitation for other cinemas to join in.

Distributor Les Films du Paradoxe is providing the first titles, all on social or political themes.

These range from accounts of past environmental and labor struggles (“Les brebis font de la resistance” by Catherine Pozzo di Borgo and “Les LIP, l’imagination au pouvoir” by Christian Rouaud) to a critique of globalization in Gilles Perret’s “Ma mondialisation.”

For less militant tastes docus include Remi Mauger’s “Paul dans sa vie,” about the life of a Normandy farmer, and Loic Balarac’s “Le fond du garage,” about a self-help car shop in Bordeaux.

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