Since the pandemic breakout, most festivals have faced or are bound to face an unprecedented situation. Film production has stalled, cinemas are closed, releases are postponed, markets are paralyzed, technicians and artists are left unemployed and directors see no sign of prospect.
In this weakened environment, film festivals of all sizes and all genres, but also TV and documentary festivals, had to react urgently.
Each of them followed different paths adapted to their industry, their audience, their size, their sponsors and partners. Some decided to digitize all or part of their program, others to cancel or postpone their 2020 edition.
Whether or not affiliated with FIAPF, international festivals have so far operated according to written or unwritten rules, which guarantee the circulation of films and the market’s fluidity. These rules serve as points of reference for sellers and producers, while aiming to preserve cultural diversity and a dynamic audience pledge.
These rules, though, are not set in stone and often have no legal basis. They have evolved and continue to evolve along with technologies and according to the needs of the industry and the market.
The digitalisation of their programs is a real revolution in the history of festivals. And if they are, for the most part, willing to go back into movie theatres and a live audience once the pandemic has passed, because a festival is more than ever about bringing people together for a state of the art screening.
But there is every reason to believe that many festivals will maintain a digital part in addition to their “physical” program and that this use of digital technology will become widespread.
For most of us, the digital shift was taken in an emergency, without any predefined course of action, depending on negotiations with rights holders and filmmakers. The abrupt transition to digital did not have time to be the subject of a global consultation between the key players of the audiovisual industry.
We believe that if digital is here to stay, in whatever form and whatever the importance we attribute to it within our programming, we must, in consultation with the filmmakers, producers, sellers, distributors, national and international public institutions, agree on a few rules. We have to protect the ecosystem of the audiovisual industry by guaranteeing a healthy circulation and diversity of audiovisual programs and films, a fair remuneration of rights holders as well as a committed dialogue with the audience
We therefore call for concerted action between the festivals and the industry players likely to be impacted by this digital revolution of non-commercial screening (associations, national and European institutions, representatives of rights holders).
In the meantime, and in order not to further weaken the audiovisual sector, we undertake to:
- Geo-block for the audience the online diffusion of national and international premieres
- Loosen, as much as possible, our rules on international premieres for films that have been recently premiered online.
Festivals already signed the plea:
58th FICX | Gijon IFF
ACAMPADOC IDFF Panamá
African Film Festivals Association
Amiens International Film festival
Athens International Digital Film Festival (AIDFF)
British Film Institute
CINEMANIA FILM FESTIVAL
Crossing Europe Film Festival Linz
Cyprus Film Days IFF
Duhok International Film Festival
exground filmfest Wiesbaden
Fantasia Film Festival
Festival cine por mujeres
Festival des 3 Continents
FICValdivia - Valdivia IFF
Film Fest Gent
goEast - Festival of Central and Eastern European Film
Golden Rooster Film Festival
ICFF “Manaki Brothers”
IFFMH - International Film Festival Mannheim Heidelberg
International Francophone Film Festival Tuebingen | Stuttgart
Istanbul Film Festival
Jerusalem Film Festival
Kyiv International Film Festival Molodist
Leeds International Film Festival
Ljubljana Intl. Film Festival
Luxembourg City Film Festival
MakeDox, Creative Documentary Film Festival
Modiband - Mi primer festival de cine
New Horizons IFF
Noordelijk Film Festival
Psarokokalo International Short Film Festival
Razor Reel Flanders Film Festival
REGARD (Saguenay Intl Short Film Festival)
San Diego Asian Film Festival
Sarajevo Film Festival
Sedicicorto Forlí International Film Festival
Seville European Film Festival
Shawna Shea Memorial Film Festival
ShorTS International Film Festival - Associazione Maremetraggio Trieste
Sofia International Film Festival
Stockholm Int Film Festival
Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival
Thessaloniki Film Festival
Torino Film Festival
Toronto Jewish Film Festival
Trento Film Festival
Trieste Film Festival - Alpe Adria Cinema
West Side Mountains Doc Fest