FNE at Connecting Cottbus 2018: Barriers to Promoting CEE Films Disappear


    COTTBUS: The differences in marketing films from CEE territories versus Western Europe have largely disappeared.

    “Nowadays it’s easier to promote a Romanian film than a Swiss one,” Mathias Noschis of marketing company Alphapanda told FNE. Furthermore, CEE is proving to have worthwhile results in terms of international sales, with Poland now recognised as one of the big six territories. “In Poland you can actually make money with a film,” he added. But CEE still has one especially unique region, according to Noschis: the Balkans. “A Balkan war (or post-war) film is almost a genre film,” distinguishing it from the products of other territories.

    The company’s interest in CEE territories is more than fleeting. Alphapanda has a Warsaw office headed by Joanna Solecka, who specialises in the CEE market.

    Noschis was in Cottbus to provide examples of marketing strategies for two projects pitched at Connecting Cottbus, held on 8 and 9 November 2018. He selected the Lithuanian film 9th Step by Irma Puzauskaite, produced by Lukas Trimonis for IN SCRIPT, which won the Avanpost Pitch Packaging Award, and the Czech/Slovak coproduction The Ugly Mandarine directed by Piaoyu Xie and produced by Michal Kracmer for Analog Vision.

    Along with generic strategy techniques, such as choosing a specific personal profile for your target audience, Noschis looked at specific marketing techniques and decisions for the two projects.

    He positioned 9th Step as a traditional art house drama, which integrates humor into the story, but questioned the title, which could lead the potential audience member to wonder what the first eight steps involve. He suggested three approaches to marketing the film, then identifying scenes that illustrate the selected approach. With this film, he suggested looking at the story-behind-the-story, the director’s own experience, to aid in interviews. The press kit would then include an interview with the director,

    For The Ugly Mandarine, the marketing strategy was notably different. Noschis recommended marketing it as an LGBT film, shot primarily in English, with a story that has current events relevance. The film would have a target audience, but would also have a secondary festival target audience: specifically fest regulars, expats and hipsters. Because of the greater diversity of outlets, the film could end up with more than one distribution strategy, which would change depending on the identity of the festival(s), and the size of the territory, and which would require two press kits. And because the film is shot in English, the producer can approach UK or North American based sales agents.