Reality Check opens

The 2-day Reality Check conference opened this morning with a sobering reflection by IFFR chief Bero Beyer on the state of independent arthouse distribution, as he listed aspects of the nightmare future we face unless we act decisively and immediately:

"A dominance of high budget spectacle films that can be seen in as many screens as [the makers wish]. An utterly scattered spectrum of under-budgeted indie film productions that are given less and less time to develop themselves. Under-budgeted/underdeveloped independent films that become bleaker in tone. There are no youth audiences as they have all turned their back on cinemas, except for the monthly thrill-ride of spectacle films. The underground world of independent production and distribution has turned into an utter fringe activity both on- and offline. Despite some fig-leaf legislation from Europe, foreign language film consumption in any territory is practically zero."

"So basically, we’re totally fucked. Now let’s all take a deep breathe. Have a relieved smile and let’s get our act together. It’s time for a Reality Check!"

Daniela Elstner from Doc & Film International offered consolation during her key-note speech.

"We are not so fucked up, I actually believe that there are still things that can be done". 

She told us about her recently purchased Siri-loaded computer which, when asked what was the best film for her and her family to go and see, told her that it must be Star Wars 8, because that is the one that most people are going to see. This got her thinking about her kids, and the world they are growing up in.

"In future, they will not have to question themselves any more. They will only be speaking to a nice and friendly computer which will find solutions for them and keep them in a mainstream and unadventurous environment, allowing a few to make tons of money and the rest to keep quiet.. I personally do not want to give in and live my life and work to a business-oriented machine, telling me which algorithm would be the best one to make money with. Culture will always survive but it will only survive if there is enough of us believing in it and keeping it going on."

Reality Check conference

The two-day conference on film distribution has kicked off. You can still attend a lot of panels at the Hilton.

Check the schedule

"I think one can answer both 'yes' and 'no' to every single question. If you look at it in terms of figures and pure business models, then 'no' will prevail. If you look at it in the same artistic way that these films are actually made, you might answer 'yes'. It is up to all of us to find ways to keep these films in the market…It is our duty to find different houses [for these] wherever they are and wherever they can be found, and to be as creative as our artists are."

"We should educate the young generation so they will not only be listening to this nice voice from the computer, but they should have a voice inside themselves, pushing and questioning the computer voice. Shut it down and make the free choice to watch a film, whether it is in a theatre, in a festival, on VOD or SVOD, or a film coming from a country that these kids [do not know]. This is what I call the reality check! As professionals we cannot deny difficulties, but we must address them.

There are ways to work around the current situation. And the future generation? Get them back from virtuality to a Reality Check.

Photo in header: Keynotespeech by Daniela Elstner (Doc & Film International).