Universciné.be: independent cinema at home

  • 11.12.2009

Created by the federation of over fifty Belgian producers and distributors, www.universcine.be will eventually offer hundreds of titles for temporary download, making it the reference portal for quality independent cinema. In this sense, Universciné has a strong mission to give independent production a high profile, and to give a new life to certain works on the bangs of conventional distribution.

Managed by Universcine Belgium SCRL (made up of 30 Belgian production and distribution structures), www.universcine.be benefits from the support of the Media program, as well as the infrastructure of La Médiathèque de la Communauté française de Belgique. Technological development was handled by sister company Universciné France. Created in 2001, the hexagonal structure already represents 20% of fiction films distributed in French cinemas and 40% of French production. In addition, Universciné France has developed privileged partnerships aimed at making collections available to the public through Internet platforms and television networks offering VOD: Neuf Cegetel, Free, Virgin Mega, Arte VOD, TV5 Monde… In the coming months, other Universciné will be created in the four corners of Europe, to constitute an efficient network for the promotion of independent cinema (Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Finland…).

Today, www.universcine.be offers fiction, documentary, animation, children’s and heritage films for a fee (ranging from 0.99 to 2.99 EUR). But the site already offers 4 different, low-cost CinéPasses for 5, 8, 14 or 20 rentals. A special place is reserved for Belgian production from both communities. Among the titles available for download at launch are Eldorado, The Wrestler, Cinéastes à tout prix, Clejani, Alice et moi, Les Trois Singes, We feed the world, Nos enfants nous accuseront, Brendan et le secret des Kells, Rwanda les collines parlent, La Meglio Gioventu, Congorama…. But also short films by Sam Garbarski, for example.

www.universcine.be which is more than just a commercial platform, also distributes its own editorial material to highlight the films in the catalog: bonus features, trailers, filmed interviews and many other subjects can be consulted free of charge on the site.

For the time being, two options are offered by www.universcine.be PC owners: you can download the file onto your computer and then enjoy it via Windows Media Player. You then have 48 hours to view the film after inserting a protection key. It can also be streamed using the free Silverlight software available on the site. The advantage is that you don’t have to wait for the film to be fully downloaded before you can start watching it. On the Mac, only the latter option is available to the film-loving Internet user.

VOD structures like Universciné therefore offer real, practical and inexpensive alternatives to highly random illegal downloading. With a major advantage: its cutting-edge catalog is essentially made up of works unobtainable on the parallel market. It goes without saying that we’re likely to find a large number of Wallimage feature films at this address.