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A Trip Through the European Film Market
by Shelly Schoeneshoefer

This year I ventured into the European Film Market which had two locations. One was at the Martin Gropius Bau and the other was in the Marriott Hotel. Since this was the first commercial film market of the year and ran nine days, people used it as a barometer for the upcoming months in the industry. There were approximately 450 exhibitors and 66 buyers listed. Each booth displayed all the upcoming films for the year. They either had books or pamphlets available and, if you were interested in a certain type of film or would like to be on the press screening lists from certain countries, this was the time to sign up. The atmosphere was very causal but bustling with excitement.

They also had lectures, which were open to those officially attending the Berlinale. This year three debates addressed the current economic concerns in the industry and included topics like “The Future of 3-D,” “Europe in a Crisis,” and “Rebuilding the Euro Model.” There were two panels discussing TV: “Series as the new cinema” and “Art-house on demand.”

I found the discussion on 3-D quite interesting since I have seen a lot of films using this technique. I also wondered if people would be willing to pay more to see 3-D given the opportunity to see it in the older format. I personally would pay the money but I wasn’t sure what the average cinema goer would think. They discussed four films, all of which I had seen: the science-fiction film Avatar, the documentary on Pina Bausch, The Life of Pi and The Hobbit. They also discussed other genres like nature documentaries and extreme sport films. Bob Maysen, the managing director of Real D Europe, which is the world leading company in this technology, said that he believes that 3-D is just another creative tool which lies in the magic box and is not a gimmick. It is more expensive, but for many directors it creates that unique vision they wish to create in their film. He also agreed that it does increase ticket price but it is justified since they are delivering a higher quality product. The panel also is aware that fewer people are attending the cinema but that’s due to the time restriction in people’s schedules rather than the cost of the ticket. They have also proven that if they show the two differently formatted versions of the same film, people will go see the 3-D film rather than the 2-D version.

Although more and more directors are switching to 3-D, it isn’t always easy to find the financing to back it up. So it is more inaccessible to the independent film makers since their financial possibilities are not equal to those of someone like Wim Wenders or Ang Lee. They all agreed that not every film is made for 3-D and there is nothing worse than a bad 3-D film. Maysen said their goal is to perfect this product so that we will be able to see it on TV in the comfort of our own homes, an up-coming trend.