Asian pics count on VOD, festivals

Distribution panel discusses delivery of Asian product

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HONG KONG -- Panelists at a “Distribution of Asian Product in the U.S. and International Markets” event on Tuesday emphasized the increasing importance of revenue from online channels and festival screenings.

Adam Dornbusch, head of acquisitions for VOD portal Jaman, said that in addition to the popularity of Bollywood and Hong Kong action films, art house and documentaries from Asia are doing good business.

“It’s a way of delivering different kinds of Asian content,” Dornbusch said. Jaman offers a mix of PPV and ad-supported free content, focusing on international and indies.

IFC Films vp acquisitions and production Arianna Bocco suggested that new digital delivery channels, such as the company’s day-and-date simultaneous theatrical and VOD releases, were “not to the exclusion of traditional distribution but complementary to it.” She noted that IFC continues to pioneer VOD releases straight from festival premiere screenings in order to exploit the buzz the films’ generate.

The panel discussed how more film festivals are being expected to pay for prints and the growing importance of those screenings becoming part of the theatrical release.

“We’re lucky in that we feed fairly high up the festival food chain, but smaller festivals are increasingly having to pay for prints and that is now becoming crucial to the revenue of independent films,” said Cameron Bailey, co-director of the Toronto International Film Festival.

Piracy is a particular threat to international distribution of Asian content when the DVD release has already occurred in the country of origin, according to the panel.

“My mother-in-law is Chinese and just about everyone in her community (in Canada) had seen ‘Red Cliff’ on DVD, let’s just say, long before the official release,” Bailey said.