Digital cinema dominated this week's IndependentCinemas Association of Australia (ICCA) conference and, with digital advocateDenis Parkes as new president, the topic will stay on the table.

Like many members, Parkes exhibits in regional Australia, inhis case in picturesque Merimbula south of Sydney. He recently invested in twodigital projectors and has been screening arthouse title Ladies In Lavender and the homegrown Three Dollars from a hard drive, thus jumping the queue for 35mmprints.

"We arenot pretending this is the d-cinema that the studios refer to, it is e-cinemaand it is primarily for maximising on-screen advertising revenues, but itdefinitely has the capacity to handle features very well, particularly onsmaller screens."

Within 18 months Parkes hopes to have upgraded to 2Khorizontal resolution -- there are only two cinemas with 1.2K projectors inAustralia now -- and be screening e-copies of mainstream films simultaneouslywith his city cousins. This means the marketing campaigns for big features willnot have come to an end by the time the film reaches him and he will be betterprotected against piracy.

Coincidentally, Three Dollars producer and co-distributor John Maynard is writing a five-yearbusiness plan for ICAA. He was chosen, said outgoing president Mark Sarfatyfrom Dendy Cinemas, because he understands the challenge of operatingindependently in the industry.

Sarfaty, who replaces Parkes as vice president, wants to seethe ICAA continue to improve its professionalism and relationships, and betterservice members on key issues such as music licensing in cinemas anddistributor dealings. On digital exhibition he wants standards set at alllevels so as to not exacerbate falling audiences.

ICAA represents about 220 screens and can take much creditfor establishing fairer practices in exhibition and distribution by involvingthe Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which was represented atthe conference.

Millions (20thCentury Fox), Cinderella Man(BVI), and Batman Begins (Roadshow)were previewed and members were updated on industrial and technological issues,piracy, classification and new candy bar offerings, including the firstpre-made, nationally available choc top, an ice-cream exclusive to Australiancinemas.