Irini Souganidou • Distributor, Feelgood Entertainment
by Joseph Proimakis
Having spent two and a half decades as a power player at two of the biggest companies ever to emerge on the Greek film market, Irini Souganidou took a few months off to get a fresh view of things. What she saw was the opportunity to take the reins at newfound company Feelgood Entertainment and turn it into one of the country’s most dynamic new entries in distribution.
Cineuropa: What urged you to head Feelgood Entertainment’s efforts?
Irini Souganidou: The concentration and vertical business model – production, distribution, exhibition and so forth – that prevails among the big local players, and the “industrialization” that these practices inevitably involve, had created, in my opinion, the suitable circumstances for new forms of distribution. A new set-up that would offer a more personal approach to films, giving them the time, space and care they deserve. Therefore, Feelgood was a great challenge and opportunity for me, because I could develop on my past experience to create a dynamic and passionate team that could apply our ideas and fresh concepts to a new perception of distribution.
What is the company’s agenda? Your plans for its near future?
Feelgood currently has a powerful presence in home entertainment through its exclusive distribution rights for Greece and Cyprus of the BBC catalogue, and through its distribution of Sony Home Entertainment Hellas’ portfolio (Sony, Universal and Disney). At the same time, in terms of theatrical distribution, we have managed to mark our presence by taking it one step at a time and acquiring important, awarded films. We have given particular emphasis to Greek films. We have acquired the world distribution rights for 65 movies of well-known and acclaimed Greek directors and have simultaneously invested in new Greek films, like the multiple award-winning Dogtooth [+see also:
interview: Yorgos Lanthimos
film profile] by Yorgos Lanthimos, Attenberg [+see also:
interview: Athina Rachel Tsangari
film profile] by Athina Rachel Tsangari (in Official Competition at Venice this year) and Knifer by Yannis Economidis, to name but a few important films. Our aim is to continue our film distribution strategy by selecting notable films, proceeding with strategic alliances that will strengthen our presence in the market and further expanding our activities in production and new media.
The number of available titles is constantly on the rise, but not all titles have worthy box office returns. How much room do you feel that leaves for distributors trying to establish their place in a small market like Greece?
The audience chooses films, not distributors. So the question is not if there is room for new distribution companies, but if there is room for so many new films released on a weekly basis. At Feelgood we do not try to prove ourselves through the amount of films we distribute. The quality of our films and mainly the way we handle their marketing and sales are the factors that will solidify our position in the market. I personally disagree with the excessive number of films released, inevitably leading to good films missing their potential audience, as they are pulled out of theatres after their first week of release.
Given your rare experience and knowledge of cinema, how do you feel about this sudden return of Greek titles in the front line of marketable cinematic product, both here and abroad? Do you feel there is a future in this area, given the current financial and political situation?
It was anticipated that the Greek market would sooner or later follow the international trend, where domestic films enjoy a significant market share of the total market. Moreover, past market researches had shown that Greeks need more good Greek films. What is particularly interesting for the Greek film industry is that during these years of economic crisis, Greek cinema is doing really well not only inside, but also beyond borders. Apart from Greek box office hits that sometimes even prevail upon Hollywood blockbusters, international markets take interest in Greek films distinguished at important international film festivals. Obviously, this recognition and the accompanying publicity substantially help the films’ distribution in Greece.
I am certain that this tendency will continue in the future, despite any economic and political predicaments. It is also certain that at Feelgood we will continue to give to our Greek films the special space and care they deserve.