News  ·  10 | 08 | 2021

Heritage Online

Heritage (is) Online: Options for Classic Film Distribution

© Locarno Film Festival / Ti-Press / Massimo Pedrazzini

Some titles are shown in this edition, like Il mulino del Po, in the Alberto Lattuada Retrospective, or Al-massir by Youssef Chahine, and the Swiss Derborence, directed by Francis Reusser.

Launched last year, Heritage online is a database project created by Locarno Pro, active all year round, and dedicated to repertory cinema. A new opportunity to enjoy on-demand titles from the past worth watching. On the platform, there is no shortage of crucial technical details, such as availability in the various territories or the possibility of contacting the rights holders. All with the idea of expanding the circulation of classics from the past around the world.

Under the auspices of Heritage, a round table discussion was held at the Locarno Film Festival on the topic of Options for the distribution of classic films. "Streaming is a reality, it's part of our world and presents many excellent opportunities," recalled one of the panelists, Ross Lipman, an American restorationist, who posed a central question for the conversation, "How to improve the experience of viewing archives and arthouse cinema online?”.

“Enhancing the heritage of the Archives and film libraries”, replies Frédéric Maire, director of the Cinémathèque suisse. "Preserve, archive, and screen, these are our keywords. The pandemic has forced us to look for new ways, such as a streaming platform, to remedy the closure of the favorite place for the presentation of films: the theaters. The producers themselves have realized the need to digitize catalog titles, trying to overcome the limitations due to geolocation and offer as much product as possible at an international level."

A global offering that reaches 190 countries is that of MUBI, a platform specialized in quality cinema, from its origins to today. "We are characterized by the care with which we present our titles," Chiara Marañón, the company's Director of Content, points out. “We don't have the range of offerings of other services, but we are proud of how select they are. The dialogue between new and old films is important to us, we present interviews, introductions by the directors themselves, in-depth analysis, as well as the balance between local and global with which we present retrospectives by filmmaker or theme."

Speaking of local going global, a successful experiment of the last year is certainly Henri, a VoD platform that evokes the first name of Langlois, the iconic founder in 1936 of Cinémathèque française. 86 films, with English subtitles, to satisfy the many cinephiles – 250 admissions every year – who crowd the theatres of the Paris Bercy headquarters. "We have proposed, free of charge and viewable worldwide, films to which we have the rights and which have been digitized and restored," Frédéric Bonnaud, director of the Cinémathèque française, told at the Rotonda by La Mobiliare. “We achieved the excellent result of 50,000 views in a few weeks with Jean Epstein's La Chute de la maison Usher. The problem is not the availability of titles, it's the thought behind the scheduling and how to go about it."

Mauro Donzelli

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