- 25.1.2016 10:23 -
Nina Numankadić: What is important is the quality of the films. We were never after quantity.
The online documentary cinema DAFilms.com celebrates its 10th anniversary. It is one of the first VOD portals in the world. Managing director of DAFilms.com Nina Numankadić replies to 5 questions concerning the directors‘ changing approach to the online distribution of their films and other topics.
How did you get to documentary film?
When I was studying at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU), I got to documentary film through my collaboration with director Erika Hníková who was working on her bachelor film The Beauty Exchange. Later I was approached about collaboration by the Institute of Documentary Film and by Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival which has initiated and financed the DAFilms portal at the very beginning. The portal was called Doc-Air at that time. Only two years later, we managed to start the Doc Alliance partnership of European documentary festivals and the portal became one of its common platforms.
What were the very beginnings of DAFilms like? What films were presented as the first ones?
The beginnings were hard, as none of the producers was inclined towards online film distribution. They all claimed that they only wanted to present films on the big screen. That’s why we started out with twelve films by kindred directors and friends, such as Miroslav Janek, Jan Šikl and Peter Kerekes. The DAFilms portal is one of the first VOD portals in the world.
How did the internet and the VOD platform environment change over the 10 years of the portal’s existence?
Currently, there are more than 700 VOD portals only in Europe, but most of them are linked to particular distribution companies or televisions. There are only a few portals focusing on curated content; for instance the French project MUBI.com aiming primarily at feature films.
What were your favourite retrospectives and most significant programme highlights in the history of DAFilms?
Today, online distribution is a common thing, but in the beginnings, we were trying to set the rules and see how festival echoes would work, for instance. We were wondering whether presenting films online could endanger the festival or not, whether festival visitors would come anyway or stay at home with their computers, or how the viewers would react if the film was released online before it was released in regular theatrical distribution. However, in the course of time, even those filmmakers who first refused to put their films online, such as Russian director Victor Kossakovsky and Czech director Jana Ševčíková, dispelled their fears and their films are available on our portal today. What was important for us from the very beginning was the quality of the selected films; we were never after quantity.
Do you have unfulfilled wishes concerning DAFilms?
The directors who still haven’t put their films online include the legend of American documentary film, director Frederick Wiseman. It is similarly difficult to acquire archive films from the first decades of cinema whose rights for online distribution are not resolved. Nobody could have envisioned online distribution at the time of their making, which is a legal problem today; not only concerning the directors but also editors or authors of the soundtrack.
You can read more about Doc Alliance here.