On October 29 the Molins del Rey Festival announced that canceled its online cinema section that had given such good results in previous years, in association with the Spanish film platform Filmin, which regularly hosts some virtual samples of well-known festivals and other specific ones. The reasons put forward in a release they talked about “an act of organized vandalism”, which could be interpreted in many ways.
The festival has worked very hard to offer a sample of small films of disparate qualities but that have always given the opportunity to get to know small independent works by new directors, crowdfunding productions and alternative visions that we do not find not only on the big screen but in larger specialized festivals that do not give the opportunity to small pieces of found footage, documentaries and works bordering on the experimental.
An inconvenient gap
Molins functioned as a heterogeneous sample that she only charged 5 euros for the provision of up to 40 titlesin some very interesting cases such as ‘The Harbinger’ or ‘Skinamarink’, which find it very difficult to reach commercial theaters or even later gain a foothold in the existing cinema platforms, so the solution of an online selection during a certain time it had begun to take shape as an option to come into contact with rarities that are otherwise impossible to see legally.
This ended dramatically two days after the start of the “Videodrome” section of the Molins festival due to these “acts of vandalism” that are nothing more than a massive filtering on download pages of a large number of files that were uploaded on Filmin. A disaster for dozens of directors and producers who have not yet released their productions commercially, who are at a festival precisely to attract buzz and interest with the aim of getting a contract on a platform or small distributor.
🔴OFFICIAL COMMUNICATION🔴 pic.twitter.com/72ebRbbLoU
— TerrorMolins (@terrorMolins) October 29, 2022
This decision to close the online Festival with the evil already done was taken with skepticism by many voices on networks who affirmed not understanding the decision not to profit from the titles uploaded now that there was already a gap of pirated availability, so that at least something could be monetized legally. An absurdity that should not be explained but that deserves several key considerations. First of all, a festival cannot allow files that have been pirated to continue to be uploaded, because the responsibility with respect to creators of very different opinion is theirs.
A dubious future for online festivals
Secondly, the festival is made up of several days, in which titles continue to come out, so it would be an affront to some selected films to be allowed to be exposed to a security breach and others to be kept out of harm’s way. Thirdly, the feature films are unsold, no matter how much money is taken in their sample of a Spanish online festival, it is preferable to delete any sample that leads to aggravate the presence of the sample on p2p pages.
To the constant attacks on the festival for its responsibility in the matter are added the voices that demand that even if it has been leaked, it be continued as if nothing had happened. As reasons, it is taken for granted that movies with an online presence are going to end up directly on piracy pages, that this should be known in advance. And here again deserves a nuance. Online festivals do not usually have this type of leaks. Sundance has not had it in the pandemic, Sitges has not had it, nor have many others who use their own video on demand pages closed to the public. It wasn’t usual. We use “was” because the situation on October 29 can change all this.
During the pandemic it was a very powerful handle to be able to watch movies at home, but now it has been shown that there is a danger for distributors, authors and producers. We have normalized that the titles that appear in platforms become content of pages of illegal distributionbut the truth is that all these answers appear mainly with titles that are being monetized in another way, so the risk is acceptable, but it can never be compared to titles that are still seeking distribution.
Debate of responsibilities
This creates a deep dilemma since small producers and the most independent will have to run the risk of their product being leaked before they have even managed to reach any trade agreement, with the corresponding damage in the subsequent negotiation. No one is going to pay the same for a feature film that they cannot enjoy some kind of exclusivity, even for a few days, or for something that everyone has seen. It is a swampy terrain that leaves a question mark on the model.
Can Filmin afford to continue offering among its services and advantages for subscribers a series of festivals with exclusive titles? It is not only that the producers or distributors now find reasonable suspicion due to platform security problems, but also that the responsibility for the leaks to happen will fall on the sample and not on the streamer, as has happened with TerrorMolins, the only ones who have issued a statement explaining the situation.
At no time does Filmin seem to have taken responsibility for a security breach that had occurred with other of its festivals. They seem to have wiped the slate clean and have decided that the silence option is sufficient, but the truth is that the problem arises from the fact that they have not provided the measures that have worked in other systems. Alcine, Granada, B- Retina, Sombra, Atlántida, Rec, Clam, Tierra, musoc, L’alternativa, Ibaff, In-Edit… and many more, they will have to risk their samples ending up on p2p within 24 hours, without the window they use assuming costs, risks or responsibilities. A model that will need new rules of the game.