February 14, 2015 / 3:13 PM / in 3 years

TV enters the Berlin film festival scene in big way

BERLIN (Reuters) - The line between television and cinema has been further blurred this year as the Berlin International Film Festival and the European Film Market (EFM) give significant space to TV drama for the first time.

U.S. writer and creator Matthew Weiner and member of the international jury of the 65th Berlinale International Film Festival attends a news conference in Berlin February 5, 2015. REUTERS/Stefanie Loos

The jury due to hand out the main awards on Saturday evening even includes Matthew Weiner, best known as the creator of the “Mad Men” drama series.

The “Breaking Bad” spinoff “Better Call Saul” featured in a group of four made-for-television drama series shown in the festival’s “Berlinale Special” forum. Two days were set aside at the EFM for sales of a select group of TV dramas, its director, Matthijs Wouter Knol, told Reuters.

“We know that many people attending the market are officially working both on films and on drama series with the same talent,” he said. “We know that many TV people are in Berlin during the Berlinale and we felt why don’t we make that part of the market?”

Knol said he did not want to turn the EFM into a full-fledged television marketplace, such the MIPTV event held in Cannes in April, but intends to provide a sales forum for series that make the grade in terms of plotting and production values.

“We really tried to position the EFM as a film market where high-quality drama series find a place made by people familiar with the film industry,” he said, adding he was looking for “drama series looking and feeling as if they could be cinema.”

“To many others we said, ‘No thank you, that’s not the kind of series we want to have’.”

The Dutch-born Knol, in his first full year in the EFM directorship, also organized a roundtable discussion of the film industry in China to try to forge closer links between the European film industry and China’s huge market.

He said one of two new Netflix-style Chinese online video distributors had signed up 900 million users in two years. Unlike the conventional Chinese cinema market, which is subject to quotas on foreign films, there are few limits online.

“These online platforms are the perfect possibility to bring content to because they’re not restricted yet,” he said.

“My feeling is that will change at some point but still they are a place for people to see American, Latin American and European content so that’s an extremely interesting market.”

Editing by Tom Heneghan

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