While established film markets and fests are embracing digital technology, the Dubai Intl. Film Festival’s Dubai Filmmart, the fest’s trading and distribution platform, sports one of the most advanced digital video libraries to date.
Dubbed the Cinetech, the digital library, which sits at the heart of the fest’s activities in the Madinat Jumeirah, acts as a virtual market for potential buyers.
Industryites can step into the quiet room, which houses 30 computers equipped with sophisticated software, and plop themselves down to watch pics via state-of-the-art touch screens, which even includes direct links to sales agents.
This year, more than 220 films were on offer through the platform including 103 pics screened at DIFF, 43 from the Gulf Film Festival and 78 Filmmart-recommended films. Lineup also included 23 world preems, six international preems, 37 Middle Eastern preems and 21 GCC preems.
Pics can be searched by genre and director, but can also be viewed by premiere status. And each pic lists territories sold.
Zaid Yaghi, director of the Dubai Filmmart, says the software, which is exclusive to the fest in the region, is one of the most advanced systems to date.
“It’s a virtual market that we’ve vamped up this year to make acquisition and distribution easier for our delegates here at the festival,” he says. “With the new search engine and list of territories where each film has been bought, we’re helping buyers save time on contacting sales agents. And if the seller is available here at the festival, the buyers can meet them directly through us here.”
There are around eight services like this in the world including one at Rotterdam and one for shorts at Cannes. But Carter Pilcher, chief exec of Shorts Intl., says the Filmmart system is one of the most advanced he’s seen.
“It’s fast, convenient, easy and perfect for the short genre as we don’t have to spend the physical time loading the DVD which, when you’re watching hundreds of short films, adds up,” says Pilcher.
Pilcher says this year he expects to make offers on up to 15 shorts just through watching them at the Cinetech.
And Reed Midem prexy and CEO Paul Zilk, whose outfit organizes events like Mipcom and MipTv, says digitizing markets is going to be a staple part of future film events. (Reed Midem is owned by Variety parent Reed Elsevier.)
“I think it’s an essential part of markets,” he says. “Having content at your fingertips is pretty much the norm now. Plus, the digital capability to efficiently search and screen programming is absolutely efficient and absolutely inevitable. It’s an enhancement at markets.”
So will the future of film fests be a virtual playing field for acquisition and distribution?
Not necessarily, says Zilk.
“There’s nothing like having people meet face-to-face,” he says. “People need to look each other in the eye and build relationships. It’s a great compliment and better for business, frankly.”