The world’s oldest film festival of Venice is showing signs that traditional cinema is dying, as online streaming sites start offering other ways for people to watch films.
With the arrival of internet streaming, the old model of studio funding for a film, cinema release, and then DVD distribution is being turned on its head.
Online streaming site Netflix welcomed two films at this year’s Venice Film Festival; its first ever feature film, Beasts of No Nation, is the harrowing tale of a child soldier in an unnamed African country, and a strong contender for a prize.
The other is a documentary charting change in Ukraine. The films will screen in cinemas and online on the same day.
‘Destroying the industry’
But Netflix’s move into the film business is controversial, as some US cinema chains have refused to play the films, accusing the company of stealing their audience and destroying the industry.
“When I’m on a train seeing kids with two sets of headphones watching a movie on an iPhone it gets me really upset because I think they are missing something that’s very important that’s integral to the cinema experience that we’ve had since 1895,” film critic Jay Weissberg of Variety told Al Jazeera.
But Venice recognises that the way many people watch films is changing and they don’t want to be left behind.
And just as video on demand tears up the old model of distribution, so crowdfunding is revolutionising the way films are financed.
The stop-motion animation film from award-winning director Charlie Kauffman was partly paid for by fans. The film’s producer said this funding model provides endless possibilities.
The future of cinema is one where audiences choose when and where they see films and even dictate if they get made at all.