A group of 18 leading film festivals has kick-started a campaign to persuade film festivals running online editions to use geoblocking technology to protect the commercial potential of the films, and the ability of other festivals to stage local premieres of the films.

The campaign, led by Thessaloniki Intl. Film Festival, is in response to the rising number of festivals that have launched online editions after the cancellations of physical editions due to coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, the group said: “It is important that festivals organizing digital screenings should limit them to their country in order to protect the audiovisual ecosystem in a digital environment, and not jeopardize the distribution of films in other countries, and their screenings in festivals and movie theaters, and on national streaming platforms and TV channels.”

The group has undertaken to geo-block themselves when staging national or international premieres, and to loosen, as much as possible, their rules on what constitutes an “international premiere” for films that have been premiered online.

As well as Thessaloniki, the group includes festivals in Amiens, Gent, Gijon, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Sarajevo, Stockholm, Turin and Trieste.

They are calling for more festivals to sign their statement, which can be found here.