It is fascinating to be part of a gradual yet crucial transformation of film industry

Will the team celebrate in the last hours of 2013? How does the European festival platform Doc Alliance work after seven years and what new online projects will see the light of day in 2014? Learn all about it in our interview with DAFilm acquisitions manager Diana Tabakov.

Besides hours of exuberant celebrations, the last days of the passing year also bring rather burdensome minutes of taking stock of the past twelve months. This is also the case with a virtual project, since behind its web interface, there is a group of enthusiastic film professionals who believe that online culture represents the future of spreading quality arthouse content and that international cooperation is the main key to continuous success and brand building. Will the team celebrate in the last hours of 2013? How does the European festival platform Doc Alliance work after seven years and what new online projects will see the light of day in 2014? Learn all about it in our interview with acquisitions manager Diana Tabakov.

Doc Alliance, an international initiative interconnecting seven European documentary festivals, wraps up the seventh year of its existence along with the online platform. The end of the calendar year as well as the 7th anniversary call for an evaluation. What was the past year like from the point of view of the team? Is there a reason to celebrate when the lifetime of VoD platforms is but a few years?

This year was really interesting for us in two respects. Firstly, there is the concrete and crucial level of developing our film catalogue. Our project was established with the intention of creating an accessible, curated space presenting creative documentaries from across the world and across the world. Currently we have a database of 800 carefully selected films and Doc Alliance has become a mark of quality among online portals, which is essential for internet projects.
Secondly, it is fascinating to be part of a gradual yet crucial transformation of film industry. Three years ago, I had to persuade mistrustful producers to put their films from five years ago online. Despite the fact that there are no fully functional business models for portals like us yet, today it is pretty common to acquire a film in the year it was made, even at the beginning of its distribution. It is obvious that the film industry has to oblige viewers who are eager to watch the film as soon as it is reviewed in the press. In this respect, too, tries to keep up with the trends and introduce distribution experiments.

The Doc Alliance group as well as the portal are characterized by a long-term effort to present documentary film in all its forms (documentaries by young filmmakers, retrospectives of world directors, presentation of archive as well as experimental films). What communication strategies have proved efficient in the years of operating both the alliance and the portal and what new methods to approach the audiences did you try out in 2013?

First of all I have to say that our main communication and promotion strategy consists in the quality of our films. We will never make concessions to it. To be more concrete, we primarily take the path of collaboration which has become a crucial term in many diverse fields of the creative industry. The existing alliance is fundamental to our work. We are a loose continuation of its activities and together we present selected films online. Besides a mutual promotion of the festivals, we primarily strive for giving publicity to the very documentaries. It is essential for the directors to become known and to make their films accessible to the viewers. To achieve this, we cooperate closely with the festivals, presenting films from their current programme for a limited period of time. These online programmes are becoming more and more popular among our audiences.

Was there something unique in 2013 for Doc Alliance and For instance, did you manage to present special film programmes that have raised a great international response?

Again, I would like to point out two things that are completely different. On one hand, our online retrospectives are becoming more and more successful, which is a great thing. For instance, we have presented works by Agnès Varda, Nicolas Philibert and Jørgen Leth. On the other hand, we’ve had two simultaneous cinema and online premieres in the day-and-date release format. In collaboration with Artcam distribution company, we have introduced a film by Danis Tanović, awarded the Jury Grand Prix at this year’s Berlinale, on the very same day it entered cinemas and other festival programmes in October. I believe that the viewers‘ interest in a film is high primarily at the beginning of its festival life and during the following theatrical distribution. That is why the collaboration of all distribution channels from the very first days of the film’s public presentation is so important.

The new year also calls for new visions and wishes. What are the future plans for the two projects? Will the alliance festival family grow or do you currently summon all your strength to present essential documentary retrospectives and online premieres? is just one of Doc Alliance‘s projects, though the most complex one. However, it is definitely not the aim of the alliance to expand as fast as possible. On the contrary, our goal is to accomplish our collaboration in the existing alliance. This year, we were joined by our great Doclisboa colleagues which we are really happy about. However, though there is a great interest in entering the alliance, we do not believe that incorporating several members at once is a good strategy. In its present form, Doc Alliance can focus on its common future projects developed besides the successful portal and the Doc Alliance Selection. I dare say that regarding the development of the strategies of alternative distribution, will be more and more progressive and will continue its focused and careful selection of quality films.

On behalf of team members, we wish our international film audiences a Happy New Year and a great appetite to regularly watch quality documentary films online!


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Doc Alliance Members

Doc Alliance is a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.