9th annual conference at Karlovy Vary IFF 2015

by Eva Morsch Kihn

The 9th Europa Distribution annual conference, organized with the support of Creative Europe, took place from July the 5th to the 8th in the scope of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Czech Republic.

This event is part of a cycle of workshops organized by Europa Distribution all year round in partnership with important film festivals in Europe and beyond.

The important number of distributors who participated to the conference in Karlovy Vary gives evidence of their preoccupation on the future of their sector and the importance to build it through dialogue and collective thinking. Indeed, the program focused on the strong issue of what represents VOD today. The different facets of the topic were enlightened through a large scale of approaches: two panels, conferences, and think tank sessions.

The  panel held on Monday July 6 gathered a diversity of audio-visual professionals from Europe and the US; from distribution, sales and non-profitable organization sectors with various backgrounds. They offered a large scale of points of views and opinions from the starting problematic “Is there demand for on-demand? What lies beneath digital market”. The approaches of the problematic by the speakers were complementary and converged to a point that was summarized by moderator Michael Gubbins (Sampo Media) “The new world is coming on but it is too early to change our business model”. Indeed, the digital world is changing so fast that it is still premature to engage deep reforms as Jelmer Hofkamp (FIAD) stated. Hadrien Lanvin (Pick Up) reminded that new major players will enter and reshape the industry again and again and as a consequence, the strategy as well. André Lange (independent expert) underlined two main issues about VOD : “we do not know what the term means : there is not a clear legal definition of what is covering the terminology VOD” and the fact that there are no figures available. This situation is not a good context to design new policies that will engage the whole chain-value.


What was spotted by several speakers is that the reforms that could be launched, in the shape they have now, would have the opposite effect of what they aim at: they will not develop audience for European diversity, on the contrary, and because of the financing model of European cinema, it can also attack the production. The reason is that cinema is not a product like any other and that is why there is an exception for culture. The promotion of European diversity needs to be adapted to the diversity of audience by a professional mediator: the distributor.

As a conclusion, it is fundamental to be aware that the sector has to make his voice heard, as MEP Bogdan Wenta said: “The representatives of the creative industry are welcome to take active part to the consultation which will let your voice being heard in distribution because you are the ones who know what is the best way for the film industry, and your works and suggestions are welcomed by the European parliament and the culture committee”.


In the framework of the session “The digital single market and the copyright reform: what lies beneath for independent film distributors”, Claire La Combe (independent expert) offered a very complete presentation of the chronology, actors, processes and contexts of the reform of the Digital Single Market and the copyright reform. She showed how it is included in a wider movement of renovation of the e-commerce regulation. She insisted on the fact that institutions, on local, national and European level are not aware of how the industry works and of the mission of the distributor. Claire La Combe, Christine Eloy and Jelmer Hofkamp insisted on the vital importance of the commitment of each member to give feedback to the institutions on what they do and what are their needs, to collaborate and being proactive by taking part in the reflection and making positive proposals.

The program of the 9th conference gave space for operational aspects, beginning with feedback on the selective and automatic schemes by two representatives of EACEA Lucia Giannini (automatic) and Juliette Desseilles (selective), presented an overview of the first results of the applications by comparing the results of the previous schemes and the new ones.

Clara Léonet made a technical presentation on how to use the collaborative Europa Distribution’s database now integrated to Cinando. The aim of this database is for distributors to have access to data and promotional material developed by their fellow colleagues in other countries (poster, trailer, box office and admissions,…)

In the digital world the models are constantly reshaped. Domenico La Porta  (Transmedia Expert), presented an update on the way the social media have to be used to stay efficient. If “what we want is you to want us “, is still the objective of the distributor through the promotion and the marketing, the way a distributor can reach the audience must be updated. La Porta, has shown the 6 steps to  have a viral strategy for films to be successful. He reminded that Facebook is a platform and not a strategy, and the fact that a social strategy has to be set up to achieve the desired effect.


A Think tank closed the program of the conference. Three issues were collectively chosen by the members: mutualisation, marketing and automatic/selective schemes. Three groups of reflection on the topics were set up and presented the conclusion of their reflection.

The LUX Prize and the festival also organised a panel on Sunday 5th of July in partnership with Europa Distribution entitled  “European contents in digital era. Towards a modernised copyright framework. What is at stake?”. Doris Pack, LUX Prize coordinator, former chairwoman of the Committee on Culture and Education, European Parliament was the moderator. The speakers were Pavel Svoboda, Chair of the Committee on Legislative Affairs, European, Parliament, Bogdan Wenta, Member of the CULT committee of the European Parliament, Petr Ostrouchov, Expert on copyright law, Julie-Jeanne Régnault, Board member of the EFADs, Chair of the EFADs, Copyright & Enforcement Working Group and Christine Eloy, General Manager of Europa Distribution,.

Europa Distribution’s next workshop will take place from Sept 20 to 24 in the scope of The Industry Club of San Sebastian Film Festival. It will be dedicated to Pushing legal offer and fighting piracy