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TV, Boomers and Asia: Film trends to watch post-Cannes

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

What films will we be watching in the near future, and how will we be watching them?

Here's a snapshot of trends that emerged in the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, a weathervane of the movie industry:

-- TV, NOT CINEMA: Hollywood's grip on big movies is being broken by TV, to which big-time directors, actors and money are migrating.

Dark, offbeat critical and commercial successes like "The Wire," "Mad Men," "The Sopranos" and "Game of Thrones" show what happens when bold programming and video-on-demand (VOD) come together.

At Cannes, there was no greater symbol of the change than "Behind the Candelabra," a biopic that has Michael Douglas as the flouncing entertainer Liberace.

"Too gay" for Hollywood, the movie was financed by HBO -- which means it cannot even be considered for an Oscar if it premieres to the public on television.

"TV is really taking control of a conversation that used to be the exclusive domain of movies," said director Steven Soderbergh. "(...) I think it's a second golden age of TV that's happening in the States now."

Richard LaGravenese said creative types found TV refreshingly experimental compared to Hollywood studio films.

"TV is where a writer can write his novel. You can have episodes that are purely character-driven (...) that are just about nuance and about shades of the human condition that you can't do in film any more."

-- GREY IS GOLD: Expect more and more films that cater to ageing Baby Boomers, the biggest and wealthiest population bulge in history.

Robert Redford made a screen comeback with "All is Lost," about a retired-but-virile yachtsman caught in a storm.

Senior-friendly projects that were announced or touted at Cannes include "Life Itself," a marriage comedy starring Morgan Freeman, 75, and Diane Keaton, 67; "And So It Goes," with Douglas, 68, who is introduced to the granddaughter he never knew he had; and "Look of Love," where Annette Bening, 55, falls for a man (Ed Harris, 62), who happens to look like her dead husband.

"You really need elements that appeal to the older audiences," The Hollywood Reporter quoted Mimi Steinbauer, an executive with Radiant Films International, as saying.

"These actors have fans in those demographics. That is very important."

-- LOOKING TO ASIA: Asian markets and money, as well as Asian content, are exerting a widening influence. China is at the forefront.

"China is coming on strong not just as a market place for international motion pictures, but coming on strong as a creative force," Hollywood legend Steven Spielberg told a press conference.

Big-budget US-Chinese co-productions such as "Kung Fu Panda 3" are sometimes shot with a Chinese location and storyline.

In the case of "Iron Man 3," producers included two Chinese characters for a version released only in China: a character named Dr. Wu, played by Wang Xueqi, and a woman close to him, performed by actress Fan Bingbing.

Some co-productions are being voluntarily submitted to Beijing's censors in the early stage of the creative process to avoid rejection further down the line, according to the industry press.

Asian-made movies can make it big in Europe and the United States provided they move out of a narrow cultural range and address universal themes, say some.

"I find film from India can be sold in Latin America, in Europe, in parts of the world we never thought of before because human emotion and drama are the same everywhere," said US-based film producer and distributor Raaj Rahhi.

-- DOCUMENTARIES: They are the biggest growth area of films, driven by interests in content ranging from social and environment issues to history, sports and music.

"People today want more than escapism," said Martijn te Pas, in charge of programming at Amsterdam's International Documentary Film Festival.

Driving the trend are cheap digital technology for content makers, niche markets for non-fiction programming ranging and the Internet as a form of distribution.

"If you own a Mac and a camcorder, you can make a documentary, basically," said Tyler Konney of Taylor & Dodge, which is marketing "After Porn Ends," about actors who struggle to resume normal life after a career in pornographic films.

Another push for documentaries and low-budget fiction is crowd-sourcing, where Internet sites such as Kickstarter bring small investors and creators together.

"Kickstarter is something that harnesses people for a project which has great ideas but no money," said Toby Rose, a British writer seeking 10,000 pounds ($15,100) for a movie idea, "Fashion Victim: The Musical."

-- PIRACY: Do you illegally download movies? In the near future, you could run a bigger risk of being pursued by the dogs of law.

Lacking a technical fix against piracy, studios are turning more and more to cyber-detectives to sniff out the Internet addresses of illegal downloaders.

Lawyers then subpoena the Internet Service Provider (ISP) to identify the abuser. The attorneys send a threatening letter, usually with a settlement offer.

"In Germany, there has been a reduction in (copyright) infringements by 80 to 90 percent over the last three years," said Patrick Achache of Guardaley, a German-based tech company which has been hired to trace illegal downloading.

In the biggest case, Voltage Pictures, which produced "The Hurt Locker," attacked 25,000 people deemed to have illegally downloaded the hit movie from BitTorrent and peer-to-peer networks. The settlement offer was usually between $1,000 and $2,000; many cases, though, have been thrown out or contested.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/entertainment/130527/tv-boomers-and-asia-film-trends-watch-post-cannes