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.
We speak with Mira Staleva who runs Art Fest.
Since 1997 Art Fest Ltd, which is a production and distribution company, has produced the Sofia International Film Festival, the biggest film festival in Bulgaria and accredited by FIAPF. Since 2004 a significant part of the festival has been the SOFIA MEETINGS coproduction market (pitchings for feature fiction film projects and a showcase of Bulgarian and regional cinema). The company also stands behind the Operation Kino.
Over the last 14 years Art Fest has released in Bulgaria more than 60 films from both well-known European directors and young talents. The company’s catalogue includes films by Wim Wenders, Michael Haneke, Andrey Zviagintsev, Lars von Trier, Aki Kaurismäki, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Terry Gilliam, Danis Tanović, François Ozon, Fatih Akin, Cristian Mungiu, Semih Kaplanoglu, Tom Tykwer, Kornel Mundruczo and Radivoje Andrić. Art Fest together with RFF International has produced and coproduced more than 10 feature films and documentaries including the award winning coproduction The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner by Stephan Komandarev, which made it to the shortlist of films nominated for the Foreign Language Oscar in 2010.
FNE: What are the innovative strategies that you choose to apply in film distribution?
Mira Staleva: We focus on events and communities as strategies to reach the audience. We use Bulgaria's biggest film festival, Sofia IFF, for the opening stage of all the films we distribute. We also travel around the country where there are no cinema theatres. Young audiences are the focus of most of our strategies. We experiment with outdoor and indoor spaces which are not traditionally considered to be cinema spaces.
FNE: Are there any challenges implied by these innovations?
M. S.: There are always challenges! For the moment we are experimenting to be able to draft an efficient strategy. The biggest challenge is the TIME! People's time is what we are competing for! And we have to be attractive and easy to reach and understand. Bulgaria lacks cinema theatres for art house films and we have to bring the LOST audience back.
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?
M. S.: Sofia International Film Festival is the most important showcase and we use it in its full capacity and PR machine. Presenting the best of cinema today to the Bulgarian audience, this is the best window for arthouse films.
FNE: How does a success (or "disappointment") in a festival relate to a success (or "disappointment") in cinemas?
M. S.: It's always different! The festival is just a stage, but it also depends on what PR actions are implemented. In most cases festival hits score the best box office.
FNE: Does piracy affect your VOD/DVD releases and is there anything you can do in order to prevent it?
M. S.: There is no VOD and DVD market in Bulgaria!
FNE: Which film do you think might describe your work in the most accurate way and why?
M. S.: Ritesh Batra's Lunchbox, for the activities implemented and the experimental character of reaching the audience.