The program offers independent filmmakers with titles in official selection at the festival the opportunity to essentially self-distribute globally via Amazon’s Prime Video SVOD platform. Films must have English, French, German, Italian or Spanish as their original language to qualify.
Film Festival Stars launched at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. It uses self-service program Amazon Video Direct, which launched in May 2016, allowing content owners to make their films available in Prime Video. Those taking up the offer earn royalties on a per-stream basis and receive a non-recoverable upfront cash bonus of $50,000, plus eligible localization bonuses.
The program allows films to pursue theatrical opportunities ahead of their streaming release on Prime Video on March 1, 2019. Filmmakers looking to take up the Film Festival Stars offer have to do so by the close of March this year, giving Amazon a two-year exclusive streaming window.
Fifteen titles took up the offer at Sundance in 2017, and Amazon has since expanded the program to cover the Tribeca, SXSW and Toronto film festivals. SXSW saw 40 films take up the offer, including Grand Jury Award winner “Most Beautiful Island” (pictured), and 100 Toronto titles took part. Berlin marks the first festival outside North America where the program has been offered.
However, the upfront cash bonus offered to Berlin titles is notably lower than those offered at previous festivals. When the program launched at Sundance in 2017, Amazon offered bonuses of up to $100,000. By Sundance 2018, bonuses could reach as high as $200,000 with $150,000 available for U.S. rights and an additional $5,000 per market if participants also offered international SVOD rights to Canada, Australia, U.K., France, Germany/Austria, Spain, Italy, India, Mexico and Brazil.