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Marrakech: Europa International, Cinando Ready Launch of Festival Submission Applet

Common entry form aims at streamlining fest entry system

‘Claire Battistoni (Be For Films), Octavia
Photo by Martin Dale

MARRAKECH, Morocco — Europa International, the European sales agents’ organization, is advancing on the creation of a common entry form for sales agents aimed at streamlining festival submissions –  achieved via an applet integrated on the Cannes Film Market’s Cinando platform.

Tested at the Tribeca Film Festival and Luxembourg City Film Festival, the common entry form simplifies the workflow between sales agents and festivals. Up until now, the applet has worked as a closed system, only available to sales agents from Europa International, which has 45 members. The new common entry form includes all submission details, as well as items for a catalogue entry if a film is selected.

After Tribeca and Luxembourg City Fest trials, a second stage will be to test the digital entry form with ten festivals, which will be contacted in mid-December. The aim is to complete this test stage before Berlin in 2017.

“Once we have all the feedback, we will improve the second version and then, in a third stage, contact more festivals,” Be For Films’ Claire Battistoni said at a Europa International one-day event at the Marrakech Film Festival that brought together 16 sales agent members.

Participants at the Europa International work session emphasized that the aim isn’t to replace personal contact between sales agents and festivals but rather make back-office work easier, so freeing up more time for other tasks.

“Personal contact with the festivals is essential,” EastWest’s Octavia Peyrou said in Marrakech. She went on: “They explain what they are looking for, and that way when I get a new film I know who is looking for it. Festivals play a key role in discovering new talent. Without personal contact, our work would be impossible.”

Talking to Variety, Battistoni, Peyrou and Autlook Film Sales’ Youn Ji underscored that festivals increasingly play a vital role as a window for many films that otherwise would never be screened theatrically. A more streamlined entry system will make it easier to reach a wider number of events.

“It’s often the smaller festivals, that aren’t so famous but are getting more important, that enable you to go deeper into each country,” Youn Ji noted.

Festival’s industry initiatives are also increasing in importance, with ever more events inviting more representatives from sales companies to connect with local distributors and film producers.

“By standardizing film submission information, we will have more time to focus on new festivals, and promoting and working on our films. From the festival side, there are only advantages since the system is provided for free,” Battistoni added.

This was the third year that Europa International, founded in 2011 and managed by Daphne Kapfer, has held a work session at Marrakech.

Other issues discussed included the Festival Box Office, a CineConductor delivery system and a new subtitling project. Attendees included Cinando project manager Camille Rousselet, Alexis Juncosa, programming head of the Luxembourg City Film Festival, plus execs at sales agencies taking in Belgium’s Be For Films, Poland’s New Europe Film Sales, Serbia-based Soul Food, TrustNordisk in Denmark, Austria’s Outlook Filmsales and EastWest Film Distribution and Germany’s Pluto Films.

The work session, which functions as an annual meeting for Europa International, also saw a large French contingent, reflecting France’s predominance in Europe’s sales sector, including representatives from Doc & Film Intl., Films Distribution, Les Films du Losange, Luxbox, Premium Films, Pyramide Intl., Reel Suspects, UDI and Wide Management.

EI members said they were particularly interested in seeing films and meeting filmmakers from Morocco, since Marrakech is one of biggest festivals in Africa and the Arab world.

Youn Ji, at Autlook, which specializes in documentaries, is currently representing a Tunisian feature, “Zaineb Hates the Snow,” by Kaouther Ben Hania (“Challat of Tunis”), which premiered in Locarno.

“I’m very interested in upcoming talent from this region,” she enthused. “I also loved the Tunisian film ‘As I Open My Eyes,’ by Leyla Bouzid. There is definitely something fresh and original growing here. And we don’t have contact with this region on a daily basis. That’s why these events are so important.”