German sales company Pluto Film is under new ownership following its sale by founders and former CEOs Heino Deckert and Torsten Frehse to Daniela and Benjamin Cölle.

Deckert and Frehse, who established the Berlin-based shingle in 2015, are stepping down to focus on the activities of their respective companies, the Leipzig-based production shingle Maja.de and Berlin film distributor Neue Visionen.

Lazy loaded image
Tamara Dondurey’s Russian drama “Stand By Me” premieres in Rotterdam Pan-Atlantic Studio

The new husband and wife team will head Pluto Film as co-CEOs, with Daniela Cölle also serving as head of acquisitions. Cölle has worked at the company since its launch, initially as festival manager.

“We are very thankful to Torsten and Heino for trusting in us as new owners and CEOs,” she said. “We believe in engaging global cinema by emerging talents, both arthouse and cross-over. We are devoted to bringing quality feature films to the international market and worldwide audiences.”

Benjamin Cölle previously worked as a creative producer and teacher and researcher at Film University Babelsberg and more recently as an audience design consultant and trainer for TorinoFilmLab. As co-CEO he will support Daniela in strategic matters: “For me it is crucial to work with both the film teams and our distribution partners on the same eye-level, as our work is a collaboration with both the filmmakers and the global and local distributors and platforms.”

Despite the current business climate, the new company heads express confidence in Pluto Film’s future.

“We are aware that the current market situation is challenging, not only due to the pandemic, but also because of a changing market beyond the window system,” said Benjamin Cölle. “However, in spite of the difficult year for the industry, Pluto has reported good sales.”

Indeed, “Liborio,” by Madrid-based Dominican-born filmmaker Nino Martínez Sosa, sold to MUBI worldwide and will be released theatrically in Belgium; and Sonia Liza Kenterman’s Greek drama “Tailor” was released by Neue Visionen in Germany, Shochiku in Japan (where it was nominated for best foreign film at the Japan Academy Film Prizes), and SkyDigi in Taiwan. It will be released soon in Spain, China, Hong Kong and Brazil.

Additionally, Srdjan Dragojevic’s Serbian comedy “Heavens Above” is set for theatrical release in the U.S. this year and Kateryna Gornostai’s Ukrainian teen drama “Stop – Zemlia,” last year’s Berlinale Crystal Bear winner, was acquired by Altered Innocence for the U.S., Wayna Pitch for France, Flamingo for Spain, Zero em Comportmento for Portugal and HBO for Central Europe.

Pluto Film acquires some 10 titles a year.

The company is navigating the industry beyond the window system with an innovative and individual approach that puts an emphasis on film festival exploitation, Cölle added.

Continuing in their positions at Pluto Film will be Manola Novelli as head of sales and Ismene Daskarolis as marketing and festival manager.

“I am excited to keep on working with this wonderful and passionate team for the cinema I love,” Novelli said. “We are ready to start the new year in full force well aware of the challenges and the opportunities in front of us.”

Pluto Film’s latest titles include Tamara Dondurey’s Russian drama “Stand By Me,” which premieres at the upcoming International Film Festival Rotterdam; Serbian director Radivoje Andrić’s adolescent drama “How I Learned to Fly”; “A Vanishing Fog,” by Colombian helmer Augusto Sandino; Wendla Nölle’s German drama “Quiet Freedom”; and Maximiliano Schonfeld’s Argentine drama “Jesus Lopez.”

“We are very pleased that in the last six years, with a lot of commitment from the employees, we were able to build up a world sales company with Pluto, which is associated with quality, reputation and dedication to cinema,” Deckert and Frehse said. “On its way to the other stars, the space ship must now ignite a new stage and for this we believe that the new owners of Pluto, Daniela Cölle and Benjamin Cölle, will bring full concentration, experience, courage and strength to this endeavor.”

(Pictured: Benjamin Cölle, Daniela Cölle, Heino Deckert and Torsten Frehse)