UK Producer Warns of Dangers of Algorithms on TIFF Digital Content Panel | New

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British filmmaker Elhum Shakerifar exchanged views with former MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe on the pros and cons of digital platforms during a TIFF panel on Monday, September 13 and warned that algorithms are preventing films difficult to categorize to be seen.

Speaking at MICROSESSIONS Access to Digital Content and the Future of Cinema Shakerifar said in her work as the BFI London Film Festival program advisor for Iran and the MENA region that she has seen algorithms strengthen stereotypes when making recommendations to viewers.

“If you are looking for reviews of many Iranian films released this year, most of them spend most of their time talking about Iran censorship and politics in a way that has absolutely nothing to do with it. the movie, ”she said. “People come in with these prerequisite expectations… with algorithms and platforms and the way things are headed for. [people] we play into the stereotype a lot and that’s why there are so many movies that go unseen because they are too difficult for the stereotype.

“We created this notion that we flatten things so that they can be bite-sized and understandable and that’s something we can reverse, question and step away from.”

His comments came after Lowe, an early-stage Netflix executive and president of Redbox, said technology had broadened people’s ability to watch content and claimed he would come out of theaters “almost in tears” before it. The advent of platforms and their vast appetite for content knowing that niche acquisition titles might never be acquired or seen.

“This is why film festivals are so important,” said producer Nico Opper who produced Try harder!, a documentary premiering at this year’s Sundance Virtual Film Festival. “We were thrilled and devastated: thrilled to be Sundance and devastated that everything was online. [We] very quickly came to accept it and then celebrate the fact that so many people were going to see [the film] that way and the access was wide open.

They continued, “They allowed some 5,000 people to participate in each online screening and no one had to buy a Park City ticket and worry about financial access – it was affordable and fair.”

“I’m a strong believer in the democratization of content and distribution,” Lowe said on the final day of the TIFF industry conference. “In my opinion, the wider the cast, the more people who can participate, the more people who can tell their stories through films and media, the better and the more there is. of people who can get a chance to see them, the better.

Lowe spoke of the “cross-pollination” of content on platforms such as the popularity of Mexican telenovelas in China and South Korea and Indonesian documentaries in France and said, “We are exposed and have this access to content that we never would have had a chance to look in the past

Shakerifar – who was named on FilterBrit 50 list in 2018 – postponed. “I agree that we would not have access to [some content] but I also think we see it a little differently because there has always been Turkish telenovelas or Egyptian cinema from the golden age watched across the Middle East region, ”Shakerifar said. “There have always been these crosses traditionally, they may not have been looked at in the same way… it goes back to the notion of discovery. There are a lot of things that were already there, that’s how we talk about it.

Bafta nominated British producer of 2015 A Syrian love story, 2018 A soul of the North and 2020 Syria-set Ayouni also cautioned against over-reliance on English, which she said was a barrier to access for non-speakers, and noted the lack of meaningful compensation for filmmakers once a streamer has acquired their work.

“There has never been justice or equity in the remuneration of artists [except for] a few, ”Lowe noted. “All we did when we founded Netflix and all I tried to do at MoviePass was increase people’s consumption and put more money into independent cinema. We spent $ 400 million on tickets over a six-month period and almost all of it went to independent films. “

The now defunct movie subscription service MoviePass launched in 2011 and made headlines in 2017 when it lowered its monthly cost and offered members unlimited tickets for $ 9.95 per month. The company paid the full cost of the tickets and didn’t expect consumer adoption to skyrocket. The model became unsustainable, and MoviePass, owned by analytics firm Helios + Matheson, ceased to exist in 2019. In June, the Federal Trade Commission discovered that MoviePass had deceived customers and attempted to make service difficult. to be used in order to reduce costs.


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