Filmatique, one of the rising online distributors of international cinema, has launched its first Talents Initiative, an online film festival promoting first and second projects made by budding filmmakers from around the world.
A portmanteau of “film” and “boutique,” the web site launched in 2017, releasing a single title each week under a monthly concentration, such as “American indie,” “Norwegian women” and “new Asian voices.” Ursula Grisham, one of the company’s three founders and head curator, told Variety that Filmatique strives to give attention to underrepresented, art-house films in an online media landscape that can overwhelm viewers with popular releases.
“We’re trying to cultivate as much space around the films so people really view it with the same level of intention and care with which it’s made. We’re focused on more niche, international content, younger filmmakers and more festival fare,” she said.
Since the site’s launch two years ago, it has garnered attention and respect from filmmakers, allowing more high-profile releases from prestigious film festivals to be made available online. For example, Filmatique featured the film “Where I Grow Old” in a showcase of Brazilian cinema after it generated interest on the festival circuit. Later, Amazon picked up the rights to the movie and distributed it on Prime Video.
“We’re never going to move away from these undiscovered gems of contemporary world cinema, we’re going to stick to that as our mission. However, if we have more recognizable titles alongside those, it creates a very interesting conversation between them and brings additional visibility,” said Grisham.
One of the motivations for creating the Talents Initiative was that Filmatique was receiving hundreds of submissions from filmmakers all over the world, hoping their projects could be featured online. After careful curation, five feature films and 10 shorts from countries like Iran, Venezuela, Brazil, Greece, Italy and Argentina will be showcased on the web site, many being distributed for the first time.
“It was a more democratic way to structure having an online film festival for the first time and focus specifically on films that are first and second features and have been underseen,” said Grisham.
Recently, Amazon announced plans to launch a similar online short-film festival promoting marginalized voices, while Netflix has also ramped up its production of foreign movies and series. The Spanish-language film “Roma” earned Netflix its first best picture nomination, in addition to taking home three awards out of 10 nods.
“There is so much more diversity than I’ve ever seen in studio films or television shows. These global giants, Netflix and Amazon –– they’re changing the landscape. They have the ability to take risks in terms of diversity that traditional studios perhaps couldn’t do because of the way their business models are run. I think it’s great they’re doing that,” said Grisham. “It’s a way of coaxing culture in the direction of increased inclusion and exposure to the human existence of people who perhaps have been marginalized or have experiences that we don’t identify with personally.”
Filmatique is available in the U.S. and Canada for $4.95 per month and includes one free month. Subscribers can view the films on Apple TV, iOS and Roku as well.