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Virtual Film Screening Lands in Toronto

Cinando, the Marche du Film's online screening service, is on a world tour to tout a new platform that could change the way film markets do business.

While a beautiful day on the French Riviera just before a champagne-filled soirée along the ocean just after bumping into Brad Pitt in your hotel lobby may be the ideal condition to watch a movie, now buyers won’t have to wait until May every year to screen the international film market’s offerings thanks to online screening platform Cinando's world tour. The Marche du Film’s online screening room service is now branching out to festivals across the globe including this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

The Cinando platform began to develop around a year and a half ago with the aim of replacing the need to send DVDs to distributors across the globe.

“The idea was to protect the industry against both piracy and the financial crisis with a secure online screening room,” Cannes’ Marche du Film director Jerome Paillard explains.

Sales companies can upload their films to the database, then choose the way they’ll invite people to see a given title, whether making it available to everyone or sending personalized invites to select buyers, or even journalists, family members and friends not part of Cinando’s database via email.

“It’s very secure and strongly protects against copying,” Paillard insists. Each movie is watermarked with the name of the person viewing it, so if it’s seen by several people, le Marché du Film knows who gave out their password.

 “Sales agents know who has seen the movie, when and for how long,” Paillard explains. Buyers can click to see a film’s budget, synopsis and sales status in any given territory, plus contact info if they are interested.

So far, 600 companies have uploaded films to Cinando. Around 100 films per month make their way to the site, for a total of 1,520 titles as of mid-September. The films hail from 88 countries around the world, the most of which come from the U.S., France, Argentina and the UK.

The service is no longer just on the Riviera and in cyberspace, however. Cinando is heading to Toronto this week as part of a globetrotting schedule that also includes stops in Karlovy Vary, Deauville, San Sebastian, Pusan, the Montreal Festival du nouveau cinema and Abu Dhabi. In 2011, 44 films from the Festival de Cannes selection, 18 from the Berlin Film Festival, 12 from Karlovy Vary and nine titles from the Deauville American Film Festival were screened for Cinando users.

But will an all-online film screening center replace the need for film festivals?

“Absolutely not,” Paillard insists. “It will replace screeners. People always sent screeners anyway, now it will be cheaper, but it won’t change the way things work completely. The industry will always need to meet and mingle and see a film in a big theater.”

Festival de Cannes’ topper Thierry Fremaux sees Cinando as the perfect compromise between the art and business of.

“We always say that a festival shouldn’t content itself with showing films only to its own audiences,” he says. “That’s why we created the Marche du Film, which remains a fundamental part of our strategy. Several decades later, new questions are being raised. For Cannes, Cinando is a way to prepare for the future, to question new technologies of broadcasting and communication and to stay awake and deal with an art, a profession and a world that’s moving very quickly.”  

So quickly in fact that most industry execs prefer to watch the films while they’re on the go, so Cinando has been forced to accommodate.  The films from both Cannes and other festivals can be viewed via streaming for now, but the Marche du Film plans to extend the offer to offline viewing by the end of the year. Industry execs will be able to download the films to watch on a watermarked DVD on the plane or on their iPads at home.

“Our goal is to support the industry and this will make things much easier,” Paillard says. “It will save a lot of time at festivals. Buyers know that if they miss a film, they can watch it another time.”Cinando is funded by the Festival de Cannes and the European Commission’s MEDIA program and is ad-driven by film companies promoting their titles. The service is currently completely free of charge for industry execs, but Paillard adds: “For now.”