Beki Probst, managing director of the EFM, tells us why she’s expecting great things from this year’s event, and why markets are still of unparalleled importance.
How many people are you expecting to attend EFM 2012?
Almost 7,000 industry professionals from 90 countries participated in the previous EFM. Based on the registrations so far, we assume that about the same number of participants will be attending the upcoming edition.
What are the key issues up for discussion this year?
New technologies and trends in digital distribution are still hot topics in the industry. The film entries at this point already show that there is a much higher demand for DCP screenings this year. We acknowledge this development by investing in the digitalisation of our cinemas.
Will EFM 2012 feature any new initiatives?
Beside the steps we take to constantly improve our infrastructure, like keeping our screening facilities on a state-of-the-art level, we want to further enhance our various initiatives such as Meet the Docs, which, for the fourth consecutive year, is dedicated to the documentary industry. Our successful format, the EFM Industry Debates, will continue for the sixth year—the three panels will focus on current trends and perspectives in the industry. Under a new name but with a a well-established format, Sundance at EFM will be presenting the latest US independent films from Sundance. The programme German Cinema—LOLA@Berlinale will again spotlight German cinema, showing films long-listed for nomination to the German Film Awards.
New this year, there will be a special meeting point at the Martin-Gropius-Bau organised by IFP (Independent Filmmaker Project). Entitled American Independents in Berlin, this will be a place where American independent filmmakers can meet, mingle and network.
You’ve been director of EFM for over 20 years; what are the main changes you’ve witnessed during this time?
These days, it is much more hectic, everything is much faster, and communication is about being reachable every minute of the day via mobile phone or laptop. This is the trademark of our times, which is also reflected, of course, at a film market. People don’t have the time to just discover good movies; their market days have to be scheduled in advance from day to night. The way films are viewed at a market also changed a lot. A buyer often has just 20 to 30 minutes to spend in a screening before moving on to the next one or to keep an appointment. Decisions have to be made quickly and efficiently.
Why are film markets like EFM still important for the industry?
Because we all want to keep our jobs! Seriously, I think the film industry markets are and will be important because human relations are crucial for all the wheeling and dealing. Film is a people’s business. I believe in the future of film markets, where the industry still meets in person, networks and negotiates face to face. It’s not only about face-to-face business, but also watching movies with audiences, which is seen as a strength of the EFM, being part of the Berlinale as the biggest audience film festival in the world.
How is EFM responding to changing technologies, for example 3D and the digital age?
We strongly focus on keeping up to date and respond swiftly to new developments in technology. For an international market like the EFM, it is crucial to adapt quickly and accommodate our clients’ demands about new screening formats. That’s why we invest this year especially in the digitalisation of our cinemas.
You have a unique insider’s view of the European film industry. Does the future look bright?
My crystal ball says it has to be bright!
Taken from movieScope magazine, Issue 26 (Jan/Feb 2012) – OUT NOW