European policy-makers and film-makers will debate the future of film in a digital world at an event on Europe Day in Cannes (Saturday May 26).

The event is a chance to consider the rapid changes that have been or will be brough about by new media developments.

The challenges of a new digital age are at the forefront of European film policy making, according to EU commissioner For Information Society And Media Viviane Reding, who is one of the key figures for the event.

The internet is rapidly changing the rules of the game for film distribution, she suggested, and it would be necessary to embrace change.

The future offers serious challenges, she suggest, such as piracy and the protection of intellectual property rights.

'Answering these questions and providing pragmatic and fair solutions will be one of the challenges facing Europe and the industry in the months to come with the aim of making cinematographic production even more attractive.'

The need to explore the potential of news media had been given more urgency by the loss of revenues from television - itself a business which has struggled with digital change.

'At a time when cinema professional have accepted television, television is paradoxically demonstrating a lack of interest,' said Reding.

European ministers who have confirmed their presence include representatives of Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Hungary, Lithuania and Portugal.

Film industry professionals are expected to be out in force, including Europe Day patron Walter Salles.

The Cannes Festival has made digital a key theme this year. Earlier in the festival, it held a discussion on 'cinemas and the audiences of tomorrow.'

Keynote speaker Michael Gubbins, editor of Screen International, said the changes already happening would change the media in more profound ways than had been seen in a century.

'The digital revolution is not some far off idea. Significant changes can be seen every day and it is vital that the industry at least understands what is happening.'

He suggested that the world would embrace new media potential in different ways and that the really fundamental shifts were likely to be seen more quickly in emerging economies rather than mature ones.

The audience at the event was given an overview on technology, market trends and the changing forms of film-making.

Adrian Sexton Executive Vice President of Digital at Participant Productions said: 'In the past film making communities were created by Truffaut, Hitchcock, Bergman but now this (on line movement) is creating another more democratic film making community.'

Most importantly, it concentrated on how audience demand was driving change. More demanding audiences could be mobilised through social networking and other internet-driven mechanisms.

For the first time, film-makers have the means to talk directly to their audience but first they had to understand who they were trying to reach.

'If you are not satisfied with your distribution, be the first to repurpose your work,' said Sexton. 'How do you create brand demand' in this case its about
quality not quantity find five good partners in digital, not 50'

Well-known academic and blogger Danah Boyd said young consumers wouldn't wait for the film industry to catch up with change, because they were already using new media to create their own content.

'My space is a socialisation space for US teens - it was an accidental case where consumers wanted to do something and made technology work for them.'

As Gubbins put it: 'The challenge is not for the film industry to transfer digital what they have always done but to understand that it needs to find a role in a new world.'