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Adam Dawtrey reports from London.

 
Arthouse distrib Artificial Eye has come up with an innovative new idea to help with the cost of BAFTA campaigning — selling advertising on its box-set of awards screeners.
When Artificial Eye sends out “We Need To Talk About Kevin,” “Wuthering Heights,” “The Deep Blue Sea” and “Melancholia” this week, the package will carry sponsorship by Film3Sixty Magazine.
The distrib sought and received permission from BAFTA for this move. BAFTA granted its approval on condition that it could veto any advertiser deemed unsuitable.
In the past, Artificial Eye has been reluctant to send out screeners, arguing that the cost of doing so for arthouse pics outweighs the potential upside of securing a nomination.
But the BAFTA voting system makes it almost impossible for films to get nominated, let alone to win, without mailing DVDs to the org’s 6,500 voters.
As a result, some Artificial Eye titles have failed to get the BAFTA recognition that many critics believe they deserved.
The distrib traditionally handles foreign-language movies, but in the past couple of years it has made a significant push into the distribution of British and other English-speaking films.
With a handful of AE titles this year regarded as strong BAFTA contenders across several categories, the company was prompted to work out a way of mounting an effective campaign without breaking the bank.
“Artificial Eye released four high-profile, independent English-language feature films this autumn, and we were keen to give each of the films the best possible platform for BAFTA recognition,” said Philip Knatchbull, CEO of Curzon Artificial Eye.
“Putting the titles together as a box-set was a good solution both for the films’ award campaigns and for profile of the company, so finding a sponsor to contribute toward the cost was a smart option.”
Artificial Eye is also separately sending out another British film, Jo Hogg’s “Archipelago.” The DVD is already on commercial release, and therefore the costs of the mailing are reduced.
However, it is not sending out DVDs for any of its foreign-language contenders, including the film widely regarded as the favorite for the award, Iranian pic “A Separation,” which won best foreign film at the British Independent Film Awards on Sunday.
That puts “A Separation” at a disadvantage against rival contenders which are sending out screeners, such as Pedro Almodovar’s “The Skin I Live In” from Pathe, and Francois Ozon’s “Potiche” from Studiocanal.
Nonetheless, Artificial Eye execs point out that they are holding special screenings of all their main foreign contenders, including “A Separation” and “Pina,” as well as making them available for voters to view via Bafta’s online platform. — Adam Dawtrey