Screen editor Matt Mueller discusses Brexit and looks forward to Toronto and Venice.
In times of uncertainty, there’s nothing like a Brexit to keep us on our toes.
The EU referendum on June 23 yielded a surprise result for most, and while the final repercussions of the UK leaving the European Union won’t be known for potentially years to come, discussions are already taking place in granular detail across the industry. Even Toronto International Film Festival is kicking off its industry programme this year with a Brexit panel (moderated by Screen).
In this month’s issue, we outline the immediate reaction from the UK and European film industries, as well as gauging considered opinions as to what the future might hold for everything from European co-productions and inward investment to the floated possibility of the UK rejoining Eurimages.
As more than one person has noted, while the immediate industry response was one of dismay, a new resolve has since emerged to get on with the task and work out the best way to move forward. Screen will be staying on top of what Brexit means for many moons to come.
Just as we were going to press, news broke that two old friends will no longer be with us in the future, at least not in their current states. Fortissimo Films, the Hong Kong and Amsterdam-based sales agent that was a vigorous and long-time champion of Asian and arthouse cinema, was forced to close its doors after more than 20 years in operation, while the UK’s Metrodome Group met a similar fate, forced into administration after being a vital player in the UK independent distribution landscape for almost as long.
During its two decades as a fixture on the festival circuit, Fortissimo, which was renowned for its refined taste, had helped forge international careers for auteurs including Wong Kar Wai, Brillante Mendoza and Tsai Ming-liang, and backed a host of festival award-winners along the way, including In The Mood For Love, Golden Bear winner Black Coal, Thin Ice and Theeb, which won the Venice Horizons Award for director Naji Abu Nowar. But an outstanding track record and excellent arthouse instincts count for less than they should in a world of shifting audience tastes and viewing habits.
Likewise, Metrodome had carved its niche in the UK distribution market as one of the most significant buyers of independent arthouse releases from UK, US and European film-makers. In the last couple of years alone, Metrodome has released Francois Ozon’s The New Girlfriend, Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color, Kornel Mundruczo’s White God, Xavier Dolan’s Mommy, Carol Morley’s The Falling, Mia Hansen-Love’s Eden, Sean S Baker’s Tangerine and Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s Evolution into UK cinemas. To say it will be missed is an understatement.
Everyone at Screen sends their best wishes to all the incredibly talented people who worked at both companies, as well as our heartfelt thanks for making a huge difference to the global and UK film landscapes. I’m sure they will all continue their excellent work elsewhere. The two companies’ demise underlines how specialist sales companies and distributors face a far tougher road these days, which is why diversifying into other areas, whether that be television, production or local distribution, will continue to be pursued across the industry.
But it’s always important to keep an eye on the bright side, so let’s just remind ourselves that Venice and Toronto are about to kick off, and their stuffed-to-the-gills programmes of arthouse as well as commercial fare should make industry and audiences alike feel optimistic that cinema continues to be in a great place. Some say too many films are made and released these days, but frankly I can’t get enough. Keep bringing it on.
Matt Mueller is editor of Screen International