Directors blame filmmaking crisis on Internet

TOKYO Mon Oct 25, 2010 1:01pm EDT

Director of the movie ''Ondine'' Neil Jordan answers a question at a news conference during the 34th Toronto International Film Festival September 15, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Director of the movie ''Ondine'' Neil Jordan answers a question at a news conference during the 34th Toronto International Film Festival September 15, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

TOKYO (Reuters) - Filmmaking is currently in a state of crisis that has left directors struggling to find their footing, with many struggling even to survive.

One key villain is the Internet, which eats into traditional audiences and has made it hard for directors to get films made, said Irish director Neil Jordan, the competition jury at the Tokyo International Film Festival on Monday.

"There's a real crisis in filmmaking right now, and that's evidenced to me by the fact that every director I know is unemployed. Or almost everyone," said the Oscar-winning Jordan, whose credits include "The Crying Game" and "Company of Wolves."

Jordan, who heads the jury, added: "I think the crisis in cinema-going is caused by the Internet. Like every other industry -- music, publishing, film. The Internet is absolutely changing peoples' habits and so everything is in a state of flux."

Ironically, the festival opened on Saturday with a screening of "The Social Network," a movie about the founding of social media site Facebook.

There are 15 competitors for the $50,000 top Sakura Prize, selected from over 80 countries and regions,

Among them are two films from China, including "Buddha Mountain" by director Li Yu, three from the Middle East including "Flamingo No. 13" by Iranian director Hamid Reza Aligholian, and "Post Card" by 98-year-old Japanese director Kaneto Shindo.

Host country Japan, which gave the world greats like Akira Kurosawa -- the 100th anniversary of whose birth will be honored at the festival -- is far from immune to the cinema world's woes, with film attendance drifting slowly down from a decade ago.

Its once-vaunted appetite for foreign films has fallen as well.

Imported movies accounted for 43 percent of Japan's 206 billion yen ($2.53 billion) box office last year, far off a peak of 73 percent hit in 2002, according to the Motion Pictures Producers Association of Japan.

Jordan said that while he was sure cinema-going would revive, it was currently extremely hard for good movies to break out from the confines of an increasing number of festivals into wider audiences.

"I think it's very important that films do not find themselves in a 'ghetto' of festivals," he told a news conference.

"Festivals are enormously important because they're one of the few avenues left for serious filmmaking, but it's also important that films leap beyond the festival circuit to find audiences around the world."

The Tokyo International Film Festival continues until October 31 and includes a tribute to noted Chinese film star Bruce Lee.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies, editing by Paul Casciato)