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in Sundance
on Jan 25, 2008

I’ve still got most of my Sundance commentary to get up and I’m on my way to the International Film Festival Rotterdam, where I’ll try to file some short reports on the fest and the concurrent Cinemart, which is a great financing conference that plans, this year, to begin a dialogue about how it can be reshaped for the future. (Full disclosure: I’m on the CineMart’s Advisory Board.)

From the festival’s Tiger Daily:

Eschewing conference and panel formats and instead deploying the tried and tested device of brainstorming towards a consensus, IFFR management and industry experts will sit down this weekend to thrash out how future CineMarts will be shaped. Or to quote the event’s remit: ‘how can CineMart position itself in a world in which the way cinema is produced, distributed and watched changes all the time, and in which digital opportunities offer filmmakers new ways of getting their films made and seen?’

‘This discussion of our future marks the beginning of the new-style CineMart’ comments CineMart head Marit van den Elshout. ‘But our future shape will not be determined in one festival, or one year. I think that it’s important to keep the discussion open. We always try to look at our own festival in a critical way, and that’s why I hope that this discussion will throw up some interesting stuff for us.’

Van den Elshout confirmed that CineMart is looking to install a ‘New Style’ section that will dovetail with the existing project-based format; one that will embrace and encourage, ‘daring new business models, using innovative platforms of distribution and marketing to reach audiences. There is no blueprint for filmmakers to say what the rules are if they want to self-distribute their film,’ she stresses. ‘Or to attract an audience through the internet and then get some revenues back. So I had the idea of incorporating this small digital section within CineMart.’

Sunday afternoon’s debate kicks off with a presentation of three innovative projects by Dutch and international digital filmmakers. These are Mini Movies by Femke Wolting and Bruno Felix (Submarine, the Netherlands), Jeremy Nathan’s Clam (DV8, South Africa) and Illuminated by Josh Store (Illuminated Productions, USA). The afternoon think tank sessions will assess the future focus of the IFFR and CineMart – the basic steps a filmmaker can/should follow in deploying net-based methods to ply their trade, and how national and European funding bodies can accommodate filmmakers within these new business models.

‘It’s not as if we want to re-shape CineMart completely, to throw away the old and start something new,’ Van den Elshout stresses. ‘The core of CineMart is still going to be the projects. Even though they are traditionally-financed, narrative, art-house cinema projects, we still have 800 people coming for them. But I think it’s important to bend things a bit. The good thing about being around for so long is that you can fine tune yourself every year, and that’s why I think CineMart is working so well.’

In the meantime, you and I can both check out GreenCine’s coverage of the festival.

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