FNE together with Europa Distribution is launching a new chapter of the Distributor of the Month section. This time we focus on new strategies in film distribution and the importance of domestic film festivals in releasing new titles. We will also be looking at what distributors can do in order to prevent piracy.
This month we speak with Hans König, who has been the head of distribution at Polyfilm Verleih since 1994. In 1988 he was appointed head of distribution at Filmhaus Stöbergasse, which was later renamed Polyfilm.
Polyfilm Verleih (the shorter version of Filmcasino & Polyfilm BetriebsGmbH) is specialised in theatrical distribution of crossover and art house films including documentaries. It also handles DVD distribution (Polyfilm video) and runs one of the most important arthouse cinemas in Vienna (Filmcasino).
FNE: What are the innovative strategies that you choose to apply in film distribution?
Hans König: We are trying to intensify our marketing via Social Media. We had some releases where we saw how successfully this strategy can work.
FNE: Are there any challenges implied by these innovations?
H. K.: Our whole staff has to learn how to implement this strategy.
FNE: What festival is the most important showcase in your country for your films and why? Are there any other showcases in your country besides this festival?
H. K.: The most important festival is the Vienna Film Festival (Viennale). It is very renowned because the programming was consistent for years and with only small compromises. Good release platforms are also the Diagonale for Austrian films and the Crossing Europe Festival for European films.
FNE: How does a success (or "disappointment") in a festival relate to a success (or "disappointment") in cinemas?
H. K.: A festival success does not mean of course that this film will be automatically a success in a theatrical release. And sometimes there is a danger that a film receives a lot of publicity within a festival and too little for the theatrical release because the media doesn’t want to repeat their coverage.
FNE: Does piracy affect your VOD/DVD releases and is there anything you can do in order to prevent it?
H. K.: Piracy also affects our theatrical releases. We know that a lot of people have a lack of understanding that piracy is wrong and unlawful. All the Austrian distributors have founded an association against piracy, Verein für Anti-Piraterie der Film und Videobranche (VAP). This association has had some accomplishments regarding the shutdown of some piracy platforms.
FNE: Which film do you think might describe your work in the most accurate way and why?
H. K.: Paulette by Jérôme Enrico because it is good entertainment and an important issue, Der Banker: Master of the Universe by Mark Bauder because it demonstrates that a documentary with an interesting topic can also be a very good film, and Global Shopping Village by Ulli Gladik because this documentary had important effects on the real world.