Locarno Industry Academy Builds Worldwide Network

The opportunities of digital distribution a large focus at Locarno Industry Academy

Marion Klotz
Courtesy of Marion Klotz

LOCARNO — Mathias Noschis, a marketing specialist at Alphapanda, sales agent Virginie Devesa at Paris-based Alpha Violet, and Alexandre Michelin, head of Spicee, an online TV consultancy and documentary platform, are three of the tutors at Locarno’s 2nd Industry Academy, the  Swiss fest’s main training facility, targeting distribution, sales and exhibition. Running Aug. 4-9, , the Industry Academy has seen a rapid international expansion, launching overseas versions at Mexico’s Morelia Festival, the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s New York Film Festival, and Cinema do Brasil’s Boutique Cinema mini-mart. A new international initiative will be shortly announced, Variety has learnt.

“Our main idea is to build a worldwide network of young professionals to generate a continuous debate and training forum beyond specific events such as Locarno’s Academy,” said Marion Klotz, the Locarno Industry Academy international project manager.

“‘How Do We Work Together’ could be one of our mottos,” she added.

The Industry Academy launched as film industry practices are evolving fast.

Noschis cited one instance: “Responsibility for marketing is shifting from distributors to producers and directors. A great example of that shift is social media,” he said.

He added: “If a film wants to be successful on social networks, it is essential that the distributors, the producer and the director all work hand-in-hand.”

Participants will have access to a masterclass from vet director Roger Corman, Still Moving producer-sales agent Pierre Menahem, Jon Barrenechea, at the U.K.’s Picturehouse Cinemas and Switzerland’s Yves Blosche at distributor Filmcoopi.

Participants are young execs at sales agencies – France’s Reel Suspects and Luxbox, Italy’s True Colours –  distribution houses – New York’s Indiepix Films, Switzerland’s Cineworx, Sweden’s NonStop Ent. – festivals such as docufest Visions du Réel and the Vilnius Fest and exhibitors (Numax in Spain, Belgium’s Sphinx Cinema).

The Academy’s curriculum at Locarno ranges broadly. Alumni will build marketing tactics for three pictures screened at Locarno: Competition players Matias Piñeiro’s “Hermia & Helena” and Jan P. Matuszyński’s “The Last Family” and Michele Pennetta’s “Pescatori di corpi” in Filmmakers of the Present.

An expert in European and non-European training programs, Noschis finds the IA program quite unique: “I wish I could have attended such a program when I started my career a decade ago. As a participant, you basically get two years of contacts in just one week.”

The Locarno Industry Academy in Morelia focused last year on  distribution. Digital distribution could be considered the current focus, according to Klotz.

“Many distributors could tell you about the difficulties they’re facing regarding digital distribution. There’s still a lot of concern about these changes,” she added.

“A big part of our sector sees them as a menace rather than an opportunity. We want these young people to see these new forms of distribution as opportunities,” Klotz explains.

Michelin shares this perspective: “I truly believe that by confronting new generations of producers with the opportunities the digital disruption is offering, we can accelerate the transformation of the media landscape.”

He added he wanted to build a “global niche” platform around news and documentaries, targeting an audience of “globally curious” people who are eager to pay for exclusive quality content.

Other tutors include, from America, Tribeca Fest’s Frederic Boyer and the Lincoln Center’s Dennis Lim.

“We try to open up local industries internationally by also welcoming young professionals from regions outside those where the event is taking place,” Klotz added.

The Industry Academy initiative is possible thanks to the support of Switzerland’s Federal Office of Culture, E.U. Media Program and the pan-European orgs Europa Cinemas, Europa Distribution and Europa International. The next Industry Academy event –in Morelia– will run Oct. 23-27.