FNE together with Europa Distribution continues its Distributor of the Month series. In recognition of the hard work and excellence of European distributors and the common problems they face, especially in the transition to digitalization, we choose a distributor from each country covered by FNE each month.
We look at the challenges and the successes faced by those distributors who are members of Europa Distribution with a special series of interviews that offer insights that other distributors of European films can benefit from and a platform for the exchange of ideas.
This month we focus on Finland and on Cinema Mondo (www.cinemamondo.fi), an independent film import and distribution company established in 1990. Cinema Mondo releases 15-20 titles in theatres and on DVD annually and sells TV rights and distribution rights to other Nordic countries. It also operates the art house cinema Kino Engel in the heart of Helsinki. Cinema Mondo titles are released on DVD through Scanbox Entertainment Finland Oy.
We spoke to its CEO, Mika Siltala, founding member and co-owner of Cinema Mondo Ltd., and also co-owner of publishing company Like, co-founder of Helsinki Film Festival (hiff.fi), President of Filmiaura Association (the professional organization in charge of the Jussi Awards, http://jussit.fi/), member of the Finnish Sauna Society and co-owner of Restaurant Sunn in historic Senat Square in Helsinki.
FNE: How does the market in your country differ from other countries? What is specific about the Finnish market? How is independent distribution doing in your market today?
Finland has very strong local hits, but otherwise the Top 10 is usually dominated by usual suspects from Hollywood, the same as all over. Capital city Helsinki’s metropolitan area is key to succesful releases for more ambitious fare, which could be up to 80% of b.o. for let’s say French high-brow drama... Finland is totally DCP –only since last year. The indie sector is struggling with typical challenges: squeezed by multiplexes, slowing business on DVD, public TV fading away. Scandalously, taxpayers’ money-funded YLE Broadcasting has basically not been buying movies at all in the last two years, totally irresponsibly, as they (should) have a role in the cultural scene.
How competitive is your market for European films (national and non-national)?
Cinema Mondo is not active with national titles, as our skills are in importing and distributing. National competition is intense. Last year 39 local titles were released, meaning that some months have several high profile local movies or let’s say several local documentaries (one special element in our scene: plenty of documentaries in distribution) … for European non-nationals, the scene is slowly getting more and more crowded.
What kind of films seem to work well with audiences in your market?
On general rule, obviously … there seems to be a certain nostalgic feeling, so old-fashioned stars like Mickey Rourke in Wrestler are well received and even embraced … Helsinki audiences go for quite sophisticated fare as well, say artists’ portraits, French drama, but these themes usually have short legs outside the capital area.
What are the major areas that you focus on? (theatrical/DVD/VOD/TV distribution, production, exhibition...)
Cinema Mondo has always been a very theatrically oriented company, since we started the distribution operations in 1990. We have a double-screener theatre Kino Engel in the historic downtown corner by Senat Square and Helsinki University, which is image-wise a really important part of our total indepencence, but on the other hand, we are releasing all (most) of our titles through Finland’s key cities in multiplexes.
What is your film acquisition policy?
Locate great movies very early, act fast.
What films have been your biggest hits?
Obviously, Amélie was massive… and March of the Penguins, several Japanese Hayao Miyazaki animations, but also Spanish fantasy/horrors like Pan´s Labyrinth, El Orfanato, and Jaco van Dormael´s Mr Nobody. We don’t shy away from US indies, David Lynch´s Mulholland Drive was great, and we expect Richard Linklater´s Before Midnight to be smash this coming summer. But the best successes are positive surprises like the Irish street-musicians saga Once (45,000 admissions) or the French La Tourneuse de page (36,00 admissions). Last week, Les Neiges de Kilimanjaro reached its one year anniversary on screen in Helsinki!
What are your upcoming releases and how will you promote them?
We recently released my personal favourite More than Honey, and Markus Imhoof’s visit made a great impact in the media, with coverage rolling out now. I already mentioned we expect Before Midnight to be our hit this summer, but also, we are releasing the totally charming Renoir, with co-ops with Film Archives (Renoir –series thru summer) and the book-publisher.
L´Écume des jours has been released in France; we expect it to be one of the event movies for us later this year … as for me personally, I´m proud we will release Wong Kar Wai´s The Grandmaster later this year.
Cinema MondoUnioninkatu 10FIN—00130 Helsinki, Finland