Romania’s lean but media-savvy Transilvania Film launched just four years ago, but the shingle has already set the marketing standard in the country’s challenged theatrical distribution scene.

That’s when Stefan Bradea, a veteran of Greek distrib Prooptiki’s Romanian arm, was tapped by helmer Tudor Giurgiu, a key player in the Transilvania Film Fest and former head of the national pubcaster, as a likely candidate to form a new “independent, arthouse, European film distribution company.”

Bradea took up the challenge and soon after acquired Icelandic teen-angst tale “Noi albinoi,” “The Machinist,” Ken Loach’s “Ae Fond Kiss” and Brit gender-bender “My Summer of Love” along with docu “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster.”

“In 2005, with these titles,” he says, “we managed to create a name and enter an already crowded market (that has) 10 distributors and only 40 screens.”

Romania’s staggering lack of theaters notwithstanding (most were converted to other uses after the 1989 revolution), the biz picked up in 2006 with Giurgiu’s own exploration of brother-sister sexual tension, “Love Sick,” which proved the biggest hit that year, with more than 22,000 admissions. Key was “an extensive campaign, with well-organized PR and media presence on all levels,” from guerrilla marketing to glossy mag and TV media barters.

And, says Bradea, “very important, Tudor directed a musicvideo for the lead actor’s band, released just before the film launch.”

The result: “We managed to create a name in local film distribution, to prove that Romanian films can still be successful, if properly managed.”

Successful releases followed: “Open Water,” “Me and You and Everyone We Know,” “Whisky,” “The Road to Guantanamo.”

Last year saw 16 theatrical releases, the biggest number so far, and Transilvania Film is committed to backing more local pics such as Anca Damian’s “Crossroads,” Adrian Sitaru’s “Angling” and Horatiu Malaiele’s “Silent Wedding.”