FNE Europa Distribution: Distributor of the Month: Transilvania Film, Romania

    Matei Truta Matei Truta

    FNE and Europa Distribution are launching a new chapter in our Distributor of the Month section. In the coming months we will talk with European distributors about their lineup, their best marketing campaigns developed for different windows and what advice they would give to a new distributor.

    This month we speak with Matei Truța, Distribution Manager with the Romanian company Transilvania Film. Founded in 2003 and active on the film distribution market since December 2004, Transilvania Film has released 124 titles in cinemas so far, of which 27 were Romanian titles. The company’s representatives are Tudor Giurgiu and Matei Truța.

    Transilvania Film is an ambitious cinema, video and TV distribution company with a series of very select art house titles, including prize winners at the most important international film festivals. Conceived by the same team that was responsible for the great success of the Transilvania International Film Festival (TIFF), held annually in Cluj-Napoca, the main goal of Transilvania Film is to offer the Romanian audience a wide range of movie titles with an emphasis on the art house segment.

    Transilvania Film’s objective is to offer at least one title per month to all movie lovers, with a special view towards the art house, upscale segment. Also, emphasis is put on the acquisition of new and original titles from across the world, with a special focus on European and Romanian cinema. The company’s recent acquisitions include the 2015 Cannes Un Certain Regard winner Rams by Grímur Hákonarson, the Best Foreign Film at the 2016 Academy Awards, Son of Saul by László Nemes and the Best Film at the 2017 Academy Awards, Moonlight by Barry Jenkins.

    FNE: How would you describe your lineup? What are your upcoming titles?

    Matei Truța: If I had to sum up our 2017 lineup in one word, I’d use three: strong, diverse and exciting. From Europe to America and to Russia. I’m happy to say we are successfully sticking to our ambitions of distributing both European and international select art house titles.

    March was a busy month for us, as we launched two of our favorite movies this year: Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight and Kirill Serebrennikov‘s (M)uchenik. In June we’re looking forward to Radu Mihaileanu’s saga,The History of Love. Documentary-wise we will have a very good year: Ulrich Seidl’s Safari, Sergey Loznitsa’s Austerlitz and Michal Marczak’s All These Sleepless Nights.

    Towards the third trimester of 2017 we are preparing three intense dramas: Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s May God Save Us, Kristina Grozeva’s and Petar Valchanov’s Glory and Katell Quilevere’s Heal the Living. Last but not least we are very excited about two of our local upcoming titles: Iulia Rugină’s Breaking News (Libra Film) and Tudor Giurgiu’s In the Beat of a Heart (Libra Film).

    FNE: Do you have good examples of fruitful collaborations or partnerships with local cinemas? Do you have your own cinema and if so how do you use it to accompany the release of your films?

    Matei Truța: One of the problems we face in distributing our films is the overall lack of art house cinemas in Romania. We do not have our own cinema, but have fruitful collaborations with certain cinemas, whose objectives and specific tastes overlap beautifully with ours. Some examples are Elvire Popesco Cinema, The Peasant Museum Cinema and Union Cinema in Bucharest and also Victoria Cinema in Cluj-Napoca.

    However, in the bigger picture, these few cinemas and the openness of some multiplexes toward art house is not something that can fully compensate for the above mentioned issue. The multiplexes remain blockbuster oriented and the art house cinemas will try to accommodate the distribution need, but will do so with limited exposure of the titles. Limited exposure, obviously, due to the high demand of both art house distributors and small independent\animation\documentary film festivals.

    FNE: If you think of a good success you had in 2016, what’s the percentage of income you got from each window (theatrical, VOD, Home Video, TV)?

    Matei Truța: The specifics of the Romanian market are such that both VOD and Home Video are rather underdeveloped. Furthermore, given the fact that Transilvania Film’s main focus is theatrical distribution, it is the case for most of our successful titles that VOD, Home Video and TV together represent roughly around 20% of the total income, whereas the rest comes from theatrical.

    FNE: What’s your marketing campaign you are most proud of? How did you develop the campaign on different windows?

    Matei Truța: It’s hard to say, which campaign I am most proud of. I both enjoyed and felt like we did a good job with titles like Tudor Giurgiu’s Why me? (Libra Film), Nae Constantin Tănase’s The World Is Mine (Libra Film), László Nemes’s Son of Saul or Damián Szifron’s Wild Tales.

    Judging the campaigns from a multi-window approach I’d say Why Me? is the most relevant of them. I already said that, currently, VOD and Home Video are not the most relevant on the Romanian market, but given the fact that this title was addressing a powerful national social-political issue, we adapted our campaign and branched out to all windows.

    We launched the film at the end of January 2015, incidentally, a few months after the Romanian presidential elections. Seeing how the film was based on a true case of political corruption in 2002 in Romania, we had a strong and carefully planned PR campaign that was synchronised with the constant growing frustration towards the Romanian political system and, more specifically, the beginning of a stronger Ministry of Justice and a serious fight against corruption.

    Rallied behind the film’s tagline “One man against them all”, we set in motion both the theatrical campaign and a “social revolution” with the help of Expert Forum (a Bucharest based think-tank run by renowned experts in public policies and administration reform) and HotNews.ro (a Romanian online daily). The idea was to encourage people to come forward and share their own stories of encountered abuse and corruption, in an attempt to unmask the people/entities in question and strive toward a cleansed system.

    We managed to cover most of the national cities where there was interest for the film theatrically or by caravan special screenings. However, we used the VOD window to target Romanians abroad. At the time, especially given the recent outrage regarding the poorly organised voting mechanism for the Romanian diaspora (scandal concerning the small number of polling stations in countries with large communities of Romanian citizens and suspicion of electoral fraud), VOD was the perfect way to reach all the communities involved with a subject that was obviously relevant to them.

    Why me? is about the life of Romanian state criminal prosecutor Cristian Panait, who died in shady circumstances in April 2002, after taking a stand against powerful vested interests. We found that the DVD window can, sometimes, work on the Romanian market if you align enough relevant circumstances. One of them was making sure we had a complex package containing such extras as:

    - A 32 page booklet about the last months in the life of Cristian Panait, with dedicated profiling to the main political and justice system characters involved
    - Exclusive interviews with the director, lead actor and the ex-prosecutor involved in the real life Cristian Panait story

    The other was picking a relevant time to launch the DVD, and what better time to do so then before the winter holidays? We figured such a DVD package would be an interesting gift to buy from a premium bookstore and we were right.

    FNE: Where do you see your company in five years?

    Matei Truța: There are a couple of things I see us growing towards: better ways of educating the public to being more open towards art house film; better ways of making our content accessible both theatrically and post-theatrically by constantly adapting and finding solutions to the specifics of the Romanian film market; hopefully, consolidating a better relationship between European film authors and the Romanian public.

    Other than that, still distributing the quality films we love and believe in.

    FNE: Do you have any advice for a new distributor?

    Matei Truța: I think the best thing you can do when starting out is to avoid the mistake of trying to “reproduce” a successful business model. What has worked for others in other contexts, might not be the best approach for you and the context in which you are putting together you project / business / company. What has worked for others in a similar context to your own, might give you some worthy insights to take into account, but still is no guarantee of success.

    I feel the best approach is understanding the specifics of your “product”, of your market, of your consumer / public and how all these pieces come together in the overall social and economic context of your territory / territories.

    For example: It is commonly known that piracy is regarded as a very destructive practice for the exploitation of a film. Especially so, if we are dealing with a big commercial title. Now, if you are distributing in a territory that is struggling with piracy, you might be tempted to adopt the “fight” against piracy and take special precautions against it when, maybe, you could be using it to your advantage. If you are distributing a niche film, you might find piracy to be a tool for boosting interests in your film among the public. You might also find that interest to be translatable in the exploitation of windows such as VOD or Home Video.

    This is a rather exotic example, but what I am saying is that success ultimately comes down to adapting you offer to the consumer's need.

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