BFI Film Audience Network boosts distribution for foreign language films

The BFI Film Audience Network’s New Release Strategy aims to expand the reach of titles that may be perceived as ‘challenging’, including foreign language films, ensuring they are seen by more people in more cinemas.

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The Pearl Button (2015)

The Pearl Button (2015)

The BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) will start a new scheme this month to support the distribution of some of the best new films from across the globe.

The New Release Strategy – announced at the Independent Cinema Office’s Winter Screening Days at Watershed, Bristol (16-18 January) – is a new initiative supported by the nine regional UK Film Hubs, which aims to expand the reach of titles that may be perceived as ‘challenging’, including foreign language films, ensuring they are seen by more people in more cinemas.

Over £100,000 will be invested by FAN, with the support of the BFI awarding funds through the National Lottery, to back six titles over the coming year. The first two to receive distribution support are Patricio Guzmán’s Berlin Film Festival Silver Bear winner The Pearl Button (New Wave, 18 March release) and Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s best foreign language Oscar and Golden Globe nominee Mustang (Curzon Artificial Eye, 13 May).

Mark Cosgrove, Chair of Film Hub South West & West Midlands said:

“BFI FAN is delighted to be partnering with our colleagues in distribution to develop a diverse film culture in the UK. As reported recently, 2015 was a disappointing year for foreign language films in the UK. This important initiative aims to support foreign language films, and other smaller budget films, to reach the audiences that they deserve in venues across the country.”

By working closely with both distributors and exhibitors, as well as key partners like Into Film and the Independent Cinema Office (ICO), this sector-led initiative aims to support the UK market for these films as well as sustain and develop an appetite for cultural cinema across the UK. The ambition is to build on the strength of local cinema brands and the connections they have with their audiences, as well as amplifying the effect of the distributor’s national promotional campaign, to enhance audience engagement throughout the UK.

Robert Beeson, Director of New Wave said:

“We’re very pleased that Patricio Guzmán’s The Pearl Button has been chosen as one of the first of, we hope, many films to benefit from this new initiative. Patricio Guzmán’s Nostalgia for the Light engaged and moved audiences nationwide in 2012 and with the aid of the New Release Strategy The Pearl Button should reach even more screens across the UK.”

Since its inception three years ago, the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN), which comprises nine regional Film Hubs, has developed strong relationships with a wide range of exhibitors in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Currently, FAN works with and supports more than 300 theatrical and 200 non-theatrical exhibitors across the UK, putting the network in a key position to deliver this pioneering new strategy.

Ben Luxford, Head of Audiences at BFI said:

“By supporting these new releases the BFI Film Audience Network aims to positively intervene in the market, engaging new and underserved audiences with critically revered, curated titles. FAN is uniquely positioned to reach exhibitors and audiences at a local level in a way that distributors don’t have the resources to.”

BFI FAN will work with distributors and partners to amplify and extend their marketing campaign, targeting specific audiences across the UK. Exhibitors will have access to regional preview screenings and a comprehensive marketing pack tailored to each film which will include a full range of web and social media assets, press templates and key national and regional partners and networks to tap into.

Bespoke opportunities will also be available for each film, for example, events with film talent, online advertising and Facebook campaigns and educational resources. While The Pearl Button campaign is currently being confirmed, it is expected to draw on the film’s fascinating political, anthropological, artistic and scientific threads to engage university students, as well as focusing on Britain’s large Latin-American and Spanish communities. There is also the potential for a UK tour with pioneering director, Patricio Guzmán.

Film information

The Pearl Button (18 March, New Wave)
Chile 2015 / Dir Patricio Guzmán / 82min

The lyrical documentary from internationally renowned documentary director Patricio Guzmán (Nostalgia for the Light, The Battle of Chile) opens up a rich reflection on landscape, history and culture in Chile.

Guzmán takes us on a journey into the water and ocean of Southern Chile. With 2,670 miles of coastline and the largest archipelago in the world, it’s a supernatural landscape full of volcanoes, mountains and glaciers. In it are the voices of the Patagonian Indigenous people and their tragic history, the first English sailors and also those of its political prisoners. Using both archival images and gorgeous new footage, The Pearl Button (El botón de nácar) manages to convey different periods of history and geography in a gripping tale of our modern world.

Mustang (13 May, Curzon)
Turkey 2015 / Dir Deniz Gamze Ergüven / 94min

The award-winning Mustang announces a new female filmmaking talent both on the screen and behind the camera. Five sisters grow up under the strict supervision of their aunt in this sensitive and powerful portrait of sisterhood and sexuality.

It’s the beginning of the summer. In a village in the north of Turkey, Lale and her four sisters come home from school, innocently playing with boys. The supposed debauchery of their games causes a scandal with unintended consequences. The family home slowly turns into a prison, classes on housework and cooking replace school, and marriages begin to be arranged. The five sisters, driven by the same desire for freedom, fight back against the limits imposed on them.

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