The European Audiovisual Observatory has announced that the theme of this year’s must-attend Cannes afternoon workshop will be Digital Cinema Tango: Getting the right rhythm for the digitization of European cinemas. The event will take place in the Palais des Festivals on May 16th. The Observatory’s director Wolfgang Closs says “We feel that it’s imperative to address the financing of the digitization of cinemas in Europe. It’s the big debate in the cinema industry at the moment and concerns all the players from producers through to distributors and exhibitors – right along the chain. On the one hand the major cinema chains are part of the roll out process whereas the smaller independent cinemas are facing major financial challenges just to keep up. There is a clear problem of synchronization of movement: the market is now going very fast but the public policies necessary to support the transition for small cinemas are quite slow due to complex legal issues. This two speed process made us think of the slow slow quick quick slow steps of the tango.” Starting the event this year is the Observatory’s cinema analyst Martin Kanzler who will look the overall 2009 box office trends. Next will be Elisabetta Brunella of Media Salles with an analysis of digital roll out in Europe for 2009. They will be joined by Susan Newman the Observatory’s film funding analyst who will present a guide to the public funding currently available for digital roll out. Also Francisco Cabrera legal analyst at the Observatory who will focus on the complex legal issues surrounding state aid for digitization by looking at recent national decisions in the field. A panel of speakers moderated by André Lange head of department at the Observatory will then take to the floor to look at the challenges and threats posed by digital roll out to European films and their space on cinema screens in Europe. Confirmed speakers include Ian Christie vice president of Europa Cinemas and Christine Eloy of Europa Distribution Aviva Silver head of the Media Program of the European Union and Antoine Virenque president of the European Digital Cinema Forum.