You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Haugesund: Nordic Distribution Panel Analyzes Recent Success Story ‘Queen of Hearts’

HAUGESUND, Norway  —  On Wednesday morning, shortly before this year’s New Nordic Films Works in Progress screening was due to begin, a handful of industry veterans sat for a panel that picked up right where last year’s WIP program left off.

Presented in collaboration with Europa Distribution, the panel – called “The Value Chain: A Case Study” – tracked the serendipitous path of the recent Danish hit “Queen of Hearts,” one of the standout titles of the 2018 Works in Progress session.

Moderated by Screen journalist Wendy Mitchell, the panel brought together sales agent Silje Nikoline Glimsdal (TrustNordisk), festival consultant Christian Juhl Lemche (Danish Film Institute), Lithuanian festival programmer Aiste Racaityte (Kino Pavasaris) and British distributor Frances Harvey (Thunderbird Releasing), with each panelist detailing their own experiences shepherding the film into its eventual release.

Both Lemche and Glimsdal stressed the importance of securing a strong festival launch when handling a film with challenging subject matter. Indeed, after TrustNordisk came onboard just after last year’s WIP screening, Lemche noted, the two parties were diligent about finding the right festival berth.

As Glimsdal explained, for a project like “Queen of Hearts” — which explores themes of sexual predation with an explicit and unflinching gaze  – jury awards and critical acclaim can help calm the nerves of skittish distributors concerned about marketability.  Confident in the strength of the film, the sales/strategy team kept pushing to land a high-profile slot, even when some of the major European festivals turned them down.

Eventually, the film found homes at Sundance, where it won the audience award for world cinema, and Göteborg, where it took prizes for best Nordic film and best actress. The sales team could then build on that January festival buzz when they brought the project to the Berlinale’s European Film Market in February. From Berlin, they managed to sell the film to nearly 30 different territories.

One of those buyers was Harvey’s Thunderbird Releasing, which will distribute the Danish-language picture later this year. Though the U.K. market for international cinema has contracted, Harvey viewed this as an opportunity for a more truthful marketing campaign. “We’re aiming at a very specific audience anyway,” she responded when asked whether Thunderbird would try to avoid a subtitled trailer. “So there’s no point trying to trick them.”

In Lithuania, Racaityte also leveraged festival buzz towards distribution success. As she explained, because “Queen of Hearts” was among the top draw titles at the country-wide Kino Pavasaris festival this spring, Racaityte opened the film’s theatrical window right when the festival came to a close in order to build on the excitement. With 8,000 admissions in the Lithuanian market, that turned out to be a winning strategy.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Renee Zellweger Rufus Wainwright Sam Smith

    Renée Zellweger: Judy Garland Was 'My Childhood Hero'

    Awards buzz is building around Renée Zellweger for her performance as Judy Garland, emerging as a frontrunner in the Oscar race for best actress. But for her, the real prize was paying tribute to Garland, of whom she’s been a lifelong fan. “Nobody was prettier, nobody sang prettier…the adventures she had, [she was] my childhood [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • 'Downton Abbey' Music Gets 'Bigger, Better,

    As 'Downton Abbey' Hits the Silver Screen, the Music, Too, Gets 'Bigger, Better, Grander'

    When “Downton Abbey” fans hear that familiar strings-and-piano theme, a Pavlovian response ensues: Get to the television immediately, because you don’t want to miss a minute of the addictive Crawley family melodrama to follow. This week, with the “Downton Abbey” movie reaching theaters on Friday, fans can’t wait for their fix of Lady Mary and [...]

  • 45 Seconds of Laughter

    Film Review: '45 Seconds of Laughter'

    “Everyone is worth more than their worst act,” said Roman Catholic sister and anti-death penalty advocate Helen Prejean, and it’s with these words that “45 Seconds of Laughter” closes. It’s an apt sentiment on which to leave Tim Robbins’ sincerely felt documentary study of the therapeutic acting workshops run by his own theater company in [...]

  • Julie Andrews

    Julie Andrews Selected for AFI's Life Achievement Award

    The American Film Institute Board of Trustees has selected Julie Andrews as the recipient of the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award. The award will be presented to Andrews on April 25 in Los Angeles. The ceremony will be telecast on TNT. “Julie Andrews is practically perfect in every way,” said Kathleen Kennedy, chair of the [...]

  • 4127_D001_00007_RC Phyllis Logan stars as Mrs.

    'Downton Abbey' to Dominate Box Office Weekend With $30 Million

    The feature film version of “Downton Abbey” is heading for an impressive $30 million opening weekend at 3,079 sites for an easy victory at the North American box office, early estimates showed Friday. The launch of Brad Pitt’s space drama “Ad Astra” will land in second with about $20 million, while Sylvester Stallone’s action-thriller “Rambo: [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content