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“A distributor must be in the position of a partner”

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Ivan Hronec • CEO, Film Europe Media Company

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- Cineuropa talks to Film Europe Media Company founder and CEO Ivan Hronec about the company's "distribution cloud"

Ivan Hronec  • CEO, Film Europe Media Company

Ivan Hronec is the founder and CEO of Film Europe Media Company, based in Prague, Bratislava and London, which distributes films and operates four channels, including one focused solely on European productions, Film Europe Channel. The company runs several travelling showcases, including Be2Can, which brings competition titles from the Berlinale, Venice and Cannes to Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Cineuropa met up with Hronec to discuss Be2Can and the company's hybrid distribution model.

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Cineuropa: This year, you have introduced the third edition of the Be2Can festival showcase, which represents part of your multi-level model of hybrid distribution. Why did Be2Can come into being as an autonomous event under the Film Europe banner?
Ivan Hronec
: Be2Can is a representative showcase of competition titles from the Berlinale, Venice and Cannes. We have two or three films every year at Karlovy Vary or at the Slovakian Cinematik film festival. But their promotional and accompanying events cannot be compared to Be2Can: Toni Erdmann [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
Q&A: Maren Ade
film profile
]
was only “screened” at Karlovy Vary; at Be2Can, it is the headliner and also the focus of an event organised by the German Embassy in Prague and Bratislava. The reactions of the media to Toni Erdmann after Karlovy Vary and Be2Can are incomparable. Be2Can manages to attract the media to a film through the sheer phenomenon of the Berlinale, Venice and Cannes.

Festivals have considered distributors as “providers”: they've told us, “Give us your films for free, and we will promote them for you.” The distributor must be in the position of a partner, not a pizza delivery man. He has to be part of the festival team. The other factor is culture: Be2Can brings the top festival films to dozens of towns and cities in the Czech and Slovak Republics – our scale is truly national. The festival stays in the same place, and our goal is to bring Be2Can into every region. Be2Can is thus a threefold idea: a festival, a showcase and a distribution concept – and for a film, that is more than just a festival.

Why is Be2Can an exception compared to other film festivals in the Czech and Slovak Republics?
Be2Can has several fortes: unbiased programming and curation, a national distribution cloud, critical analysis, a healthy business model and a strong competitive impulse. The team picks 15 titles from the main competitions of the three A-list events. The selection process is objective, but the critique is lively and subjective, and in front of the media and the public – and that is exceptional.

The Be2Can movies play in cinemas as well as on VoD and TV. After five months, a film from Be2Can is shown on TVoD, after 12 months on the premium Film Europe Channel and SvoD, and after 24 months on free television. The “distribution cloud” respects the rhythm of the industry, and a viewer picks his viewing channel of choice. It seems that such a complex distribution cloud is not operated by any other film festival in the world.

Our unbiased programming is complemented by our critical analysis. Film Europe is probably the only distributor in the Czech and Slovak Republics to be helmed by graduates of Film Studies and the Fine Arts. The uniqueness of Be2Can lies in its wide array of titles and its critical analysis, and also in its cinema-VoD-TV business model, which is only a burden on the budget of a city, a region, a state or the EU on the surface.

Regarding our competitive impulse, Be2Can has initiated programming changes at local festivals. It has triggered a process of revitalisation that is happening in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Is the hybrid distribution model for European arthouse films a necessity in this region?
The hybrid model is a necessity for everybody. Film Europe is the only thoroughly hybrid distribution company in the Czech and Slovak Republics. We count our viewers at festivals, in cinemas, and for DVD, VoD and television. We are the biggest distribution company in the region if we count all of the distribution channels. The festival and the cinema are the primary and most important elements, but they only make sense as part of a whole.

Have you considered the format of episodic narration, which is currently very much in vogue?
Our contribution to episodic narration is not a series, but rather the serialisation of festival films at Be2Can and the serialisation of European cinema on the Film Europe Channel. Film today is like a painting, and a good festival is a gallery. Be2Can is intentionally and objectively a gallery featuring the best festival films in the world. The episodes are the main competitions at Berlin, Venice and Cannes, and the series is Be2Can.

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