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European Film Market Targets Tech Innovations in Horizon Programs

The tectonic shifts being felt across the film industry landscape are reverberating at this year’s European Film Market, where the impact of new technological developments, growing opportunities, new markets and the roles of diversity and inclusion are in the spotlight.
“We have been witnessing one of the biggest changes in the film industry during the last 10 to 15 years – not just in Europe, but worldwide,” says EFM director Matthijs Wouter Knol. “Technology-driven innovations and digitization have turned the film and media landscape upside down. They have led to new major players in the industry that will continue to disrupt business models, marketing strategies and audience behavior for years to come.”
Unsurprisingly, the EFM Horizon program, which examines the future of the film and media sector and its cross-pollination with the tech and startup industries, has continued to see its attendance grow since its inception two years ago.
EFM Horizon filled a gap from the beginning and has grown in importance and relevance, says Knol, adding that the innovation platform has become a significant meeting place for market participants. It’s “the perfect setting to learn what’s coming up in the rest of the year, who will be the players to watch and what trends to follow.”
The event is spotlighting a wide range of opportunities offered by immersive media, artificial intelligence and blockchain technology, including new financing models, different  production structures, alternative methods of revenue distribution and forward-thinking marketing strategies, Knol says.
VR is likewise high on the agenda with a number of dedicated events as an increasing number of filmmakers embrace it to promote their works, among them Fatih Akin for his Berlinale competition screener “The Golden Glove” and Wes Anderson for “Isle of Dogs,” which unspooled here last year.
The EFM’s VR events will bring together filmmakers and game producers. “It is exciting to see how both sides exchange experiences and benefit from each other regarding storytelling, technology and interactivity,” says Knol, noting that VR suites are now being introduced in theaters, while extended reality (XR) games and escape rooms have been available in VR lounges for quite a while.
EFM Horizon is also looking at the ways in which equality, diversity and sustainability in the industry can improve in the coming years.
The market began to highlight the role of diversity and inclusion in business last year and it has now expanded its program. 

“With the rise of a broader public discussion and the awareness that these topics are not just a social issue but essential for success at the box office, these subjects have re-entered the industry with even greater force and urgency than before,” Knol explains.
The EFM is offering some 10 different events on diversity and inclusion throughout its platforms, including talks, panels and presentations at EFM Horizon, DocSalon, Producers Hub, EFM Industry Debates and the Berlinale Africa Hub.
The Africa Hub, which offers its own panels, presentations, VR lounge and high speed networking event that brings together European and African filmmakers, is likewise seeing bigger crowds. The event focuses on Sub-Saharan African industry innovators. The African market, characterized by fast digitization, huge potential audiences, different structures and disparate regional development, is difficult to understand and penetrate, but nevertheless exciting for the coming decade, Knol says.
With this year’s regional focus on Norway, the EFM will see 21 Norwegian productions and co-productions screening at the market, among them “Amundsen,” from “Kon-Tiki” helmer Espen Sandberg, Eirik Svensson’s “Harajuku” and “Psychobitch” from Martin Lund.

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