The Netflix Model might be able to Fix a Major Film Festival Flaw (Column)

The Netflix Model might be able to Fix a Major Film Festival Flaw (Column) ...

Even as Netflix stocks weaken, the streamer proved that it can still develop a decent show. Netflix is a Joke Festival was a win: Multiple standups satisfied LA audience over 11 nights, and that resulted in a promotional cycle that will drive Netflix subscribers to watch those performances nationwide.

As the international film industry prepares for Cannes, the implications of it are clear: a physical event, one that will inform future content more people want to see! Yes, the Netflix Is a Joke Fest suggests a model that might address one of the biggest challenges in the arthouse distribution landscape.

This column seeks big swings, and this one hides in plain sight. Festivals have flirted with taking more active roles in film distribution, but few have broken the potential to leverage the hype they create. Films create buzz, they find buyers, and then they wait until they find a slot on the schedule. By that time, the buzz is a memory. It''s too obvious to go ignored.

This is not about the preordained hits that use the festival as a marketing launch. For all the joys of seeing Palme dOr winner Titane at Cannes last year, there was only a key moment in Neons'' timeline for its release.

For acquisition titles, the same distributor of Titane purchased a movie at the last years festival that now includes Jonas Carpignanos'' neorealist crime thriller A Chiara. Similarly, Gaspar Noes'' multi-screen look at senility, Vortex, finally made its way to Utopia Distribution in early June. In early June, the Directors Fortnight highlight Neptune Frost will come out in U.S. theaters from Kino Lorber.

The Afrofuturist musical from Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman is the ultimate festival breakout tale: a stunning, unclassifiable hacker love story set against the backdrop of a dreamlike Rwanda, it adds a mythical sense of postmodern identity in poetic sci-fi terms that would make Octavia Butler proud. Without the festival context, a film this daring and unexpected has a difficult time telling the world in the first place. Like Vortex and A Ci

The best thing about Williams and Uzeyman at Cannes was that Neptune Frost entered TIFF and NYFF; Williams requested a Sundance invite. This week, the number of films that have gone and now is astounding. Not all films have come and gone from then to now. Our uniform paced approach was appropriate.

The ability for Neptune Frost to gain an audience was not guaranteed. From the moment she became Cannes, other festivals informed its perspectives: Would they provide additional platforms? They did, and all of those invitations were eventually catalyzed into a sale.

Generally speaking, a SVOD service can provide an opt-in option for all films planned at major festivals. Build in a generous profit share for filmmakers (most likely around an AVOD model, so every item puts money in their pocket). Movies that play one major festival might wait and see if they get invited to others before triggering the VOD release; if a buyer comes along at any point, filmmakers may be forced to withdraw from the service.

Let''s take a moment to shine in memory of the Amazon Video Director Film Festival Stars program. For two years, this VOD experiment provided as much as $100,000 for programs that played at Sundance and other major festivals to be available on the service.

The Festival Stars program became fundamental to the festival market, offering a built-in SVOD opportunity for filmmakers and distributors who might not otherwise be able to get the work on a major streaming platform. Amazon paid millions for festival films before putting the plug in 2019, and although it never explained that decision, it was clear that it had other goals for building out its content library, such as spending $8.45 billion for MGM.

The Amazon Festival Stars program left a gap: The festival ecosystem cant depend on big streamers and their narrating business strategies. During COVID, festivals began building VOD components. In that sense, the first steps have already been taken; they simply must be connected.

Many filmmakers still hope for a theatrical release, but the festival run is the theatrical release. Many smaller distributors demonstrated that they would happy to execute festival films with existing VOD strategies as long as they receive it. If SVOD were committed to a festival VOD service through non-exclusive agreements, distributors might still use this presence by taking these films into other, larger streaming libraries when the opportunities presented themselves. And when they do, the filmmakers still benefit from their original SVOD agreement. It would restore a floor to the

Festivals are keen to reclaim the myth of becoming a niche VOD platform after the epidemic. TIFF has already 86d the virtual component of its lineup, although a few films will be available in Canadian homes. In these instances, they should lean into these lessons rather than abandoning them.

There is no need to wait a year for most festival discoveries to reach new audiences, and the industry currently has no knowledge to avoid that possibility. If filmmakers make a switch when festival hype hits a fever pitch, the gap between the festival world and arthouse audiences would continue.

In an altogether unpredictable climate, other festival organizations will be preparing their next trips at Cannes this year. According to Shift72, who provides services that enabled TIFF and Sundance, among others. This prospect may seem less appealing now that festivals desire to return to the physical world, but might a ground in a SVOD service bring festival films to audiences before they lose interest?

Yes, that''s why we need a new streaming service! However, Netflix''s recent fears demonstrate that subscriber churn is a real thing. Fickle consumers want services that provide them with reliable choices. That includes festival audiences, who may appear like a rarified group until one considers that on a global scale, even a rarified group is a flexible one.

I encourage readers to share their own thoughts about this issue. Would you pay for a streaming service that included major festival films? Or would most filmmakers prefer to wait a year and allow distributors to rebuild the buzz from scratch? What are the financial limitations of this approach? Send me better ideas, clarify the roadblocks, or call me an idiot, as long as you can support it: eric@indiewire.com

On Sunday, May 22, there will be a panel on the future of festivals at the American Pavilion at 12:30 p.m., with my sparring partner Anne Thompson for a live video. Bonus points if you come back and say hi and provide some suggestions for the future directions of this column. I may just say it.

I''m assuming that this story about the layoffs at the International Film Festival Rotterdam received some positive feedback from the audience, so I''m revealing some highlights below. This development situation may require a follow-up as the festival plans to announce its new programming team at Cannes, so stay tuned.

The programmers are the subject of many questions: whether or not the latter is a given. If you think that the latter is a given, then you may consider whether or not you are aware of the possibility.Olaf Moller, the IFFR programmer,

I strongly disagree with the statements about the programmers'' collaboration with Vanja Kaludjercic, which I for my part might always discuss things with her in a very constructive manner, especially when it comes to the film''s presentation (beyond any bureaucratic issues). Yes, autonomy was a collaborative process, but it was a very fruitful one at that! So, as a regional programmer, there must be someone with the full picture how it might be otherwise? So, I do not feel any need for

I think it is very important that we begin talking explicit about money, both to understand just how difficult the situation is, but also because I believe the money is linked up in poor treatment.Senior programmer at large American festival (anonymous)

Film programming is based on a classist structure in which the privileged can take the financial burden of working for little or no pay to establish themselves. I hardly need to mention travel costs, accommodations, time commitments, and so on. By its nature, the system discourages diversity. It''s a rich man''s hobby. Noel Lawrence, filmmaker

Rotterdam was the world''s best film festival mainly because it excluded Hollywood merchandise in favor of independent and thoughtful voices. Raul Ruiz and Kinji Fukasaku had extensive stunning retrospectives as well as vibrant new works. In the same day, Rotterdam used to show more interesting new work than the NYFF would do in its entire run. Expect a rudimentary corporate approach that will ultimately owe hope.Keith Sanborn, the filmmaker

Hier are a few examples from the past.