FNE Europa Distribution - Distributor of the Month: Antoine Bagnaninchi

Antoine Bagnaninchi Antoine Bagnaninchi

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 the Romanian company Independenţa Film and we speak to CEO Antoine Bagnaninchi. Founded in 1997, Independenţa Film is the only art house film distributor in Romania, handling an average of 15 titles per year. Among the approximately 250 films distributed so far – independent productions, niche films and films awarded in important festivals – are exquisite titles such as The Virgin Suicides, The Pianist, In the Mood for Love, The Wrestler, Cidade de Deus, Melancholia, Dogville or Elephant. Independenţa Film also distributed the films of Corneliu Porumboiu such as 12:08 East of Bucharest and Police, Adjective, and it will distribute in Romania his third film, When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism starting 20 September. Bagnaninchi is from Corsica but moved to Romania in order to establish Independenţa Film.

FNE: How does the market in your country differ from other countries? What is specific about the Romanian market and how independent distribution is doing?
Antoine Bagnaninchi: In Romania we don't have a network of specialized theaters for art house or European films. There are two or three theaters of this kind in Bucharest, one in Cluj, one or two others in the country, but that doesn't make a network. There are a lot of screens now (much more than five years ago), but they all are within multiplexes and therefore dedicated to a much more commercial cinema. Due to this specificity of the market, distributing European films is getting more and more difficult for the smaller or more fragile films, and we have to focus on bigger titles that can do the cross-over to the multiplexes screen and attract a wider audience.

How competitive is your market for European films (national and non-national)?
Many European successes remain without theatrical distribution in Romania. We have only three or four distributors (I don't know if the fourth one still exists) to release European films on theaters. Romanian films are not doing that well either in theaters. Child’s Pose was an astounding exception in the Romanian box office and we can only hope that it will convince more and more moviegoers to see Romanian productions.

What kind of films seem to work well with audiences in your market?
As everywhere, comedy usually does work better. For European films a few names (mainly directors, like Haneke, Lars Von Trier, Almodóvar) are attractive by themselves and do have their dedicated audience; this is the result in a certain way of our perseverance as a distributor and our fidelity to some authors.

What are the major areas that you focus on (theatrical/DVD/VOD/TV distribution, production, exhibition…)?
Theatrical distribution is the reason why we do this job. Getting a film to the big screen (moreover, maybe when it is a “small” film) is still a great pleasure. But we hardly live on theatrical distribution and TV sales are for sure our main economic activity. Video has been down for some years now and VOD is still too harshly affected by piracy.

What is your film acquisition policy?
We should be reasonable and focus mainly on big commercial titles; we do that for sure but we are still driven by our passion and we acquire mainly what we love. Being able to release a movie that you love and finding an audience, even small, to share it with you is for us the essence of our job.

What films have been your biggest hits?
Some years ago Emir Kusturica’s Black Cat, White Cat, Amélie, or The Pianist with a memorable premiere, around 4,000 people in a fully packed Sala Palatului (the former Congress auditorium of the Communist Party) to welcome Roman Polanski and his film. More recently The Concert by Radu Mihăileanu, Melancholia by Lars von Trier and Michael Haneke’s Amour.

What are your upcoming releases and how will you promote them?
In September The Grandmaster by Wong Kar Wai and the new film of Corneliu Porumboiu When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism, recently presented in Locarno. In November, the Palme d'Or winner La vie d'Adèle - Chapitre 1 & 2 (Blue is the Warmest Colour) with the director Abdélatif Kechiche to be present in Bucharest at the premiere, Only God Forgives later this year. And for 2014 the eagerly awaited Nymphomaniac by Lars von Trier.

Independența Film
47  Luca Stroici street
020584, Bucharest, Romania
Phone: 021-314. 61.23
Fax: 021-312.16.19