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Martin Kochendörfer & Leila Hamid - German distributors of Irina Palm

Berlinale effect

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Martin Kochendörfer & Leila Hamid - German distributors of Irina Palm

Contrary to other European countries where it was only of medium success at the box office, the arthouse production Irina Palm [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Sam Garbarski
interview: Sébastien Delloye
film profile
]
by Sam Garbarski did very well in the German speaking countries. Mainly in Germany and Switzerland the film received good press reviews and had a relatively large audience, considered the unusual story and the fact that it was an arthouse production.
Between its release date in June and the beginning of October, the film had about 380 000 visitors in Germany.
Why was the film successful in Germany, but not in other European countries? A closer look at the marketing campaign by the German distributor X-Verleih.

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Irina Palm - X-Verleih’s marketing campaign in Germany

“X Verleih is the distribution arm of the film production company X Filme, which is lead by the directors Tom Tykwer (The Perfume), Wolfgang Becker (Goodbye, Lenin!), Dani Levi (Mein Führer), and the producer Stefan Arndt. The main reasons for taking the film into distribution was the heart warming story”, as Martin Kochendörfer from X Verleih’s Board of Directors says, “as well as the excellent screenplay and the fact that the film was a German co-production.”

Target audience for the film:
“Targeted was an arthouse cinema audience, with a focus on mature women around 40 years of age.”

Marketing Hooks:
“- the main actress Marianne Faithfull
- the good screenplay
- Sam Garbarski’s successful earlier film Rashevskis’ Tango, a story about Jewish everyday life in France.
- the unusal story
- the success at its first screening at the Berlin International Film Festival.”

“The work of X Verleih’s marketing department was based mainly on the huge success the film had on its first screening at the Berlinale competition section. This made the film widely known to critics and programme makers of cinemas alike. They saw the film and didn’t forget it”, as Leila Hamid, Marketing Manager of X Verleih says. Irina Palm received standing ovations at the screening. “The film, and mainly the main actress Marianne Faithfull, was considered as a possible winner of a “Bear”, the Berlin Film Festival award. Marianne Faithfull was present at the screening and received grand applause.”
“This was an event whose effect continued”, said Leila Hamid. “The ones who shared it talked about it weeks afterwards. We managed to keep the interest going until the release date in June.”
“X Verleih chose this release date because this is the time when the weak season for cinema over summer begins with few other competing films. We estimated that the film would need time to develop over several weeks”, says Kochendörfer.
The distributors expected that Irina Palm would find its audience by word-of-mouth advertising, by recommendations of friends rather than big advertisement campaigns.
The film started with 80 copies in German cinemas, the number temporarily rose to 83. Now Irina Palm is being played for 17 weeks and is still being screened in 72 film theatres. “Several cinemas who started to play it in June are still showing it”, says Kochendörfer. In a few weeks the film will be available on DVD.

X-Verleih used several marketing tools to create an ongoing curiosity for the film: - Important were screenings, mainly for a female audience like Brigitte Preview, CineLadies or Ladies Night.
- The distributor cooperated with advertising partners as the beauty company Dove.
- The trailers were shown a considerable amount of time before the start to keep the audience interested.
- Life-size promotion displays were produced which is a rather unusual tool for arthouse productions.

Cast
Important for the marketing was the main actress Marianne Faithfull. The story of her live seemed to make her the most suitable impersonator for the figure of a grandmother from the English lower class who does rather surprising things to save the live of her beloved grandson.
The figure of a mature woman who is able for a big change in her life, who starts anew against all odds, and who experiences a rather special love story, seamed to be quite appealing for the targeted audience and the press.

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