Slovakia

In the micro-market of Slovakia, industryites tend to wear several hats — and that’s key to the successful formula of distrib Continental Film, says the company’s Michal Drobny.

It’s diversify or die, he explains: “I’m not a specific distributor targeting just European movies. In a country like Slovakia with 5 million people, if I distribute only European movies, I can’t survive.”

What’s more, having a healthy stake in the means of distribution doesn’t hurt, he says: thus Continental’s 30% share in Cinemax, the Slovak exhibition circuit (not to be confused with the U.S. cable channel) that has just acquired its eighth multiplex in the country, with sights on a ninth in the fall.

The cinemas run a weekly niche-film program, dubbed Artmax Day, usually Tuesday or Wednesday, to help promote Continental’s less-commercial pics. The formula allowed the small shingle to pick up 41 films in 2007, with 34 planned for this year. It also gives Continental a sufficient cushion in its bottom line to support local product, Drobny says with evident pride, citing three new pics that are at least partly Slovak-produced, which will join his slate during the course of the next 12 months.

One of the films, Czech-helmed war story “Tobruk,” will build buzz with military vehicles and theme events at cinemas. “This year we will have the biggest number of Slovak films of anyone in the country — three, that’s a lot!” says Drobny.

Continental also remains committed to turning locals onto progressive work from abroad, like Russian thriller “12,” French-German-Luxembourg animated fantasy “Dragon Hunters” and “Paris, je t’aime,” scoring critical successes and growing Slovak audiences.

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