A spin-off from the region's independent distribution powerhouse SPI, Film Europe combines professional savvy with well-established connections throughout the heart of Central Europe.
In Berlin, Film Europe's managing director Marta Lamperova will unveil nine films, including five completed films, one cartoon-based feature in tandem with a TV series, and three films in varying stages of production. The company's team is located at the Central European stand #128 in Martin Gropius Bau.
Film Europe landed a choice spot in the Berlinale Generation line-up, with the world premiere of Who's Afraid of the Wolf (Kdopak by se vlka bal) directed by Marie Prochazkova. Described as a "visually original film combin(ing) elements of a family film and children's fairy tale-like horror, speaking about a love and divorce of parents from a child´s perspective," the 90-minute movie has an unusual spin on elements from the Red Riding Hood story.
Who's Afraid of the Wolf screens at EFM on February 10 at 14:15, at DffB Studio; and in Berlinale Generation on February 12, 15:30, at Zoo Palast 1
Four of Film Europe productions will be shown at the European Film Market.
Broken Promises (Nedodrzany slub) directed by Jiri Chlumsky is also set to premiere in the Czech Republic soon after premiering in Berlin. The 129-minute Czech-Slovak co-production is based on the true story of Martin Friedman, a Jewish boy born in Western Slovakia in 1926 who escaped deportation to the concentration camps thanks to his soccer-playing skills.
Broken Promises premieres at EFM on February 9 at 10:45, in CinemaxX Studio 19.
The Great Thaw (Snezenky a Machri) directed by Viktor Taus, is a "bittersweet comic" look at a reunion of high school classmates and their professors 25 years after graduation. The 95-minute film is a Czech-Slovak co-production and was a recent hit in local distribution.
The Great Thaw screens at EFM on February 9 at 13:00, at Parliament.
Veni Vidi Vici by Pavel Göbl is set to premiere in the Czech Republic following its Berlinale screening. The film is "a lighthearted look at a young boy who becomes a golf star and what fame brings to his life∑"
Veni Vidi Vici has its premiere at EFM on February 10 at 9:00, in CinemaxX Studio 19.
My Husband's Women, (previously entitled Flowers of Sakura) from director Ivan Vojnar, premieres at EFM prior to its summer 2009 release in Slovakia. The 85-minute Slovak-Czech film is a portrait of a stagnating marriage of a middle-aged couple whose ideals are jarred by the appearance of a young woman.
My Husband's Women screens February 10 at 18:45 in CinemaxX Studio 13.
In addition to the five completed films, Film Europe is unveiling a new Polish film, Lorts of the Flys (Lord of the Flies). The feature-length film is based on a Polish cult cartoon series about a group of eight-year-olds burdened by unhappy predictions from a fortune teller. The quartet vow never to grow up, and take active steps toward their "impossible goal." Film Europe is also offering the 54-part, 25 minute TV series.
Film Europe has three further productions in the works. Rest (T.M.A) a psychological thriller by Czech New Wave director Juraj Herz, is currently in post-production, with a May/June completion date. Apricot Island (Marhoulovy ostrov) directed by Peter Bebjak, currently in post-production, is scheduled for completion in April. Little Witch on a Broomstick, a sequel in the children's "Saxana" film series from veteran children's film director Vaclav Vorlicek, is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2009.
Film Europe got off to a strong start with the appointment of Marta Lamperova as Managing Director. Formerly Head of Sales for the Berlin-based film distribution and world sales company MDC Int., Lamperova is overseeing the company's launch as a co-producer capable of bringing a skilled synergy to its activities. Film Europe combines the resources of Lamperova's European wide sales contacts with SPI's reputation as a pan-regional distributor. Lamperova is joined by associate Silvia Pinterova, a public relations specialist who handles promotion and festivals.
SPI International general manager Ivan Hronec welcomed Lamperova's appointment to a position that draws on her experience and talents. "Film Europe will be concentrating on regions where Marta has strong business relationships," Hronec said.
The new company brings a new synergy to the SPI family. Film Europe will offer the option of partnering with Central European filmmakers as a co-producer and will connect local filmmakers with international production partners. Film Europe will then take the emerging product to the next stage, offering guaranteed distribution through SPI's growing network of cable TV channels across Central Europe. Finally, Film Europe will nurture the film's international trajectory by acting as a sales agent.
"Film Europe will handle exclusively films from Central and Eastern Europe," Lamperova said. "At this moment, a strong focus is on the Czech Republic and Slovakia." Film Europe also represents Polish films produced through SPI's domestic company, SPI Poland, under the direction of Piotr Reich. The company plans to expand next to include Hungarian and Romanian films.
"We are looking for interesting projects and producers, to co-produce, distribute, and offer world sales and promotion," Lamperova said. "EFM is our very first market, with all films being premieres," she added. "We want to work with producers and directors from our region and give them professional services in terms of promoting their films."
Co-production partners working with Film Europe will likely be attracted by the multi-tiered support offered by sister company SPI International. The biggest buyer of independent films in Central Europe, SPI distributes films in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and its newest market Romania. Film Europe operates in a partnership with SPI, which ties-in distribution rights for the SPI territories.
The partnership allows not only for theatrical distribution, but brings a guarantee of television sales through the growing network of SPI's broadcasting partner company, Film Box. Licensed in 2005, Film Box operates in all five of SPI's current territories, with its most recent expected launches of Film Box Extra and Film Box HD in Romania and Bulgaria.
"Film Box is a perfect tool to glue the structure together," Hronec said. "There's no film we can't show." The specialty channels are performing strongly. Kino Polska claims 3.5 million subscribers, and the Czech and Slovak channels reached 600,000 by late 2008. In Hungary, some 100,000 subscribers signed up within three months of its September 2008 launch.
SPI is on the verge of further growth across Central Europe. The company expects to expand into the Baltics, Ukraine, and former Yugoslav countries beginning with Slovenia and Croatia.
"SPI was always looking into partnership in a non-competitive way of establishing a niche in the nature of cross-promotion and cooperation," Hronec said. With the introduction of Film Europe, the SPI family of companies achieves that goal.
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