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Industry Experts Mull Disruption, Festivals And China At IFFAM Forum

Industry Experts Mull Disruption, Festivals And China At IFFAM Forum

Disruptors of the traditional model of the entertainment industry such as Netflix and Amazon are temporary, while film is forever, was one of the key findings of the ‘Macao Forum’ a new IFFAM initiative introduced this year.

The festival’s industry hub hosted several closed-door sessions where industry practitioners debated three topics. The first was ‘How can the film industry maintain consumer loyalty to the medium, in a world where TV is better than ever?’

Presenting the findings of the panellists on this topic, Gilbert Lim, executive vice president of Thailand’s Sahamongkolfilm International, clarified that by television, the intention was to discuss big screen versus small screen, including global giants Netflix and Amazon Prime. The panellists described the increased skew of young audiences towards social media where they get most of their updates and recommended that films need to do more creative digital marketing to get young audiences into cinemas. Exhibitors need to ensure that cinema theatres are well maintained.

“The consensus is that it’s just a disruption,” Lim said. “Meaning that other media like Netflix and Amazon are there just for the time being. Film is here to stay.”

Lim added that as long as the OTT platforms continued to make producers huge upfront profits, they would remain a preferred option.

The second topic debated was ‘Do film festivals still have the same significance they used to? How can we use them to launch films effectively?’

“Everyone agreed that film festivals remain relevant,” said Clare Stewart, festival director of the BFI London Film Festival, presenting the findings of this topic. She said that festivals add value to a film’s life and that they have evolved strategies to retain audiences while keeping themselves relevant to the industry. Festivals are good shop windows for other media platforms. Stewart spoke about a healthy burgeoning of festivals in China, helping to create a market for foreign films.

The last topic of discussion was ‘How is the growing Chinese market affecting the rest of the world’s independent business?’. Presenting the findings of the discussions, Jonah Greenberg, president, motion pictures at CAA China, said that the consensus of the panellists is that while foreign expectations of Chinese films tend to put them in genre boxes, they do not always work at the global box office. “It’s not the channel, it’s a failure of the movies,” Greenberg said.

The robust local Chinese box office is a mixed blessing, Greenberg said, creating no pressure for the films to succeed overseas. “Up and coming local filmmakers are finding success at home in China, so they are not compelled to seek success in the west,” said Greenberg.

Greenberg lauded the increasingly sophisticated appetite of Chinese audiences that led to the box office success of films as diverse as India’s “Dangal” and Thailand’s “Bad Genius”.

China could become a viable third funding alternative to Netflix and Amazon, Greenberg noted.

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