Ivana Košuličová • distributor, CinemArt
Risk makes it interesting
Czech distributor CinemArt has been active in the local market since 1995, specializing in European and independent films. The company played a key role in introducing Czech audiences to such auteurs as Aki Kaurismaki and Fridrik Thór Fridriksson. CinemArt is also a key partner in local productions. Head of acquisitions Ivana Košuličová explains her company's role.
Cineuropa: What do local audiences expect from a European film?
Ivana Košuličová: I wish I knew that answer myself. It’s always a mystery which film will connect with the audience. In general I think a film has to touch viewers with its humor, mood and theme. For example, many Scandinavian films are very close to the Czech sense of humour. In the end, a film can be even more successful here than in its country of origin because it clicks with the audience. Czechs especially love black humour, which made the Norwegian film The Art of Negative Thinking [+see also:
film profile] an unexpected arthouse hit out in Czech cinemas.
Your recent releases include Mammoth [+see also:
film profile], Let the Right One In [+see also:
interview: John Nordling
interview: Tomas Alfredson
film profile] and Desert Flower [+see also:
film profile]. Tell us a little about your strategy.
All three films you just mentioned have been quite special for us. We usually distribute European dramas or tragicomedies with no world famous actors in a cast. Suddenly, we had genre film with Let the Right One In, a big-name cast in Mammoth with Gael García Bernal and Michelle Williams, and Desert Flower, which became a commercial hit in many European countries. The marketing strategy had to be different not only from our usual titles but also unique to each film. We like to be creative, so for the campaign for Desert Flower, for example, which tells the story of former fashion model Waris Dirie, we had a fashion show with dresses made from 35mm film.
Each year you usually pick up a title or two from Karlovy Vary, which runs this week (July 2–10). How useful is the festival for you in gauging audience response?
It can be different with each film. It definitely is useful to see the film with a festival audience, but it can be also tricky, as every distributor knows. Sometimes the film works well with the festival audience, but when you release it theatrically, it’s a failure. On the other hand, a festival screening can start a great buzz about a film and help fill the cinemas when you release it later. We like to pick the films up in KV since the selection is always very interesting and refreshing. How the film does in cinemas later on is the question.
CinemArt handled the distribution of some Czech filmmakers‘ early works while their later films went with more commercial distributors. How competitive is the current market for Czech films?
Czech films can make big admissions numbers so clearly it is a competitive market. For us it's a similar position to the case of other European films: new films by famous Czech directors are often offered to bigger commercial distributors, so we have to search for new talents. It means we often release debuts, which is risky but often more interesting. When a famous director's producer does prefer our company to the bigger ones, we are very pleased and honored because it means he believes in our distribution skill. This is how we came to release Petr Zelenka's remarkable film The Karamazov Brothers [+see also:
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