Having already opened horizons for film-makers, digital technology's potential to transform film choices is now beginning to make itself felt at festivals and among theatrical exhibition circuits.
The Berlin festival has equipped ten of its cinemas with digital projectors and is showing 47 films from the Panorama, Forum and Perspektive Deutsches Kino strands in digital format. They include Robert Lepage's Far Side Of The Moon, Romauld Karmakar's Land Of Annihilation and James Miller's Death In Gaza. Still more will be shown in the market.
The equipment allows many films shot on high definition video (HD) to be shown in their original and intended format for the first time. It has also allowed the emergence of a thematic programming strand such as the Forum's "Project 10 Real Stories From A Free South Africa".
"Digital technology provided by our partners has considerably enhanced the diversity of the programmes of the panorama, Forum, Perspectives Deutsches Kino," said the festival in a statement.
Kees Rynincks of the Dutch Film Fund and a digital pioneer with Euro DocuZone (EDZ), said: "It looks like Berlin has really got its act together."
Later this year, digital technology will allow the Cannes Market to launch a new section promoting business in short films. It intends to digitise all the shorts in the festival and store them on a server, allowing them to be played out at will to buyers, producers and film schools.
Institutions and exhibitors are now clamouring to join Rynincks' EDZ, a fledgling network of cinemas which will use satellite connections and digital projectors to screen independent films across Europe.
The UK's Film Council, Sheffield's Doc House and the Swiss film centre have now begun active co-operation with EDZ, which was born last autumn with eight partner countries as an extension of the DocuZone network in The Netherlands. DocuZone regarded digital technology as a means of getting more documentaries into theatres, but it seems the network could extend to support independent European features too.
This month it begins two weeks of system testing in front of live-, paying-audiences in Amsterdam with documentaries originated on HD and features originated on 35mm film.
The first feature is Passionfruit (Die Passievrucht) directed by Maarten Treumiet. Produced by 24FPS, the film was originated on 35mm, scanned to the 2k Cineon format and digitally screened using MPEG 2 MP, one of the highest available digital formats. This will be followed by controversial documentary Smile And Wave, about the activities of Dutch soldiers in Afghanistan.