The end of the actors strike is particularly good news for the European Film Market (EFM), which expects a bonanza of new projects held up or postponed during the SAG-AFTRA walkout.
SAG-AFTRA members voted Tuesday to approve their new three-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, representing Hollywood’s major studios and streamers. The new deal, valued by the union at over $1 billion, will now take effect retroactive to June 9, and will extend to June 30, 2026.
EFM director Dennis Ruh said the Berlin market, which runs February 15 to 21, 2024, is poised to benefit as actors get back to work.
“This being the first market after the conclusion of the SAG-AFTRA strike, we are receiving positive, promising feedback from sales agents and other market participants,” says Ruh. “They will bring projects to the EFM which were interrupted temporarily or even held back but are ready to resume or be put on sale now that the strike is over. They will encounter buyers coming to Berlin with their new annual budgets in search of fresh films and series.”
The independent film industry could use a pick-me-up after tepid deal-making at the Toronto Film Festival and the American Film Market earlier this year, two events that were rocked by Hollywood’s labor disputes, as producers found it difficult to package projects to pre-sell to global buyers.
According to Ruh, demand is strong ahead of the 2024 EFM, with exhibition space at Berlin venues the Martin Gropius Bau and Marriott Hotel both nearly sold out two months ahead of the market. More than 11,500 participants are expected to visit Berlin next February.
In addition, the 2024 EFM will use Berlin’s Documentation Centre for Displacement, Expulsion, Reconciliation, near the Gropius Bau, as a venue for meetings and events, including the EFM industry sessions, and the CinemaxX multiplex on Potsdamer Platz for market screenings. The 2024 market will add a new pop-up venue, the Gropius Dome, outside the Gropius Bau for networking events, get-togethers and parties for up to 300 people. The Dome will also serve as a lunch spot for EFM attendees.
Among the events planned for the 2024 EFM are a new edition of Winston Baker’s Entertainment Finance Forum, which will explore the current and future state of film financing, and the inaugural edition of AfroBerlin, a platform for the African film industry which aims to bring together key players from the continent and the Afro-diaspora to discuss the market potential of African content worldwide.
Another new EFM offering, Reel Time, will let distribution companies present promo reels of their latest titles at a special pre-market show on Feb. 14, a day ahead of the official EFM kick-off. For buyer convenience, the screenings will be according to genres and themes such as animation, arthouse or horror.
Italy will be the European Film Market’s country of focus this year, with a special program highlighting the Italian film industry and networking events for attendees looking to link up with producers, distributors and investors from the region.