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 Poland with an interview with Jakub Mróz, the president of Tongariro Releasing, the first distribution company in Poland specialized in GLBT cinema (gay, lesbian, bisexual and trangender)
In the last two years Tongariro Releasing has released 11 titles theatrically (including Xavier Dolan’s I Killed My Mother and Beauty by Oliver Hermanus), and 30 features and documentaries on DVD (including John CameronMitchell’s Shortbus). Tongariro has also its own VOD service, OutFilm.pl, which shows all its films and titles from other distributors.
Jakub Mróz graduated from University of Economics in Poznan, Poland. He worked as an advisor for public and private cultural institutions in the field of project planning and financing. He is the president of Tongariro Releasing since 2010.
FNE: How does the market in your country differ from other countries? What is specific about the Polish market? How is independent distribution doing in your market today?
Jakub Mroz:We deal with arthouse gay-themed films. In this genre the market in Poland is not very well developed. Before Tongariro was set up, many LGBT titles had not been available in our country. This is mostly because the gay community is not integrated, it hasn’t built its identity yet. Compared to other markets, we don’t have dedicated bookstores and magazines. Soin order to reach the audience we have to be present in general media, theaters and stores.
There are two interesting observations. The first one is that the network of arthouse theaters is very well developed in Poland. So staying outside commercial theaters, it is possible to have a premiere with more copies than in other countries.
The second observation is that I think that the Polish market follows the global trends faster than in other big countries in Europe. Most arthouse theaters, even the smaller ones, are now equipped with digital projectors. The DVD market decreases rapidly and VOD is getting more and more popular.
How competitive is your market for European films (national and non-national)?
National films are very popular in Poland. They have big promotional campaigns and they are screened both in commercial and arthouse theaters.
European films also have many admirers, but not many of them are presented in commercial theatres.
What kind of films seem to work well with audiences in your market?
Internationally acclaimed films that show universal values are more successful than films addressed just to LGBT community.
What are the major areas that you focus on? (theatrical/DVD/VOD/TV distribution, production, exhibition…)
We are active in all fields of distribution. From the very beginning theatrical distribution was our core business. But it is changing. Because of digital cinema, there are more films entering theaters each weekend. It is more difficult to compete for screens and for viewers. The DVD market is slowing down rapidly.
Therefore right now we concentrate our forces on VOD. In March 2012 we launched our own VOD service OutFilm.pl, which is dedicated to LGBT films. It aggregates our titles and films from other distributors in Poland. In the future it should be the main area of distribution.
What is your film acquisition policy?
We acquire the filmswe like. This is the most important criterion. I believe that the viewersappreciate our selection.
We have released shorts, documentaries and feature films, comedies and dramas, with little and bigger budgets, but still independent. I’ve dreamed from the very beginning to release the classics of queer and LGBT cinema.
What films have been your biggest hits?
Shortbus, Weekend, I Killed My Mother – arthouse films, which could attract not only LGBT audience, but viewers in general.
What are your upcoming releases and how will you promote them?
In the near future we will release films mostly as video on demand. We will show films from different cultures: the Argentine film La Leon, the Hongkong film Amphetamine, or the American Five Dances. We will also release European films such as the Italian documentary La bocca del luppo and the German feature Romeos.