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Posted by Shawn Steiner at 2:14PM   |  6 comments
Kino Lorber Incorporated

Blog posting written by Shawn Steiner, Film and Photography ’14, FLEFF Blogger, Elkridge, Maryland

Welcome back FLEFFers. Here is a new FLEFF scoop!

I had the opportunity to talk to Rodrigo Brandão, the director of promotions for Kino Lorber Inc., an international film distributor. He also happens to be an Ithaca College alum.

Rodrigo at Ithaca College

Shawn Steiner: How did you enjoy your experience at IC as an undergrad? Especially your time spent as Dr. Zimmermann’s projectionist.

Rodrigo Brandão: My experience at IC was truly fantastic and not simply because I was living abroad for the first time in my life. The idea that all of sudden (and with relative ease), I could take classes in several departments and also explore different theoretical practices, technologies and fields was completely new to me. And it really changed my relationship with work and cinema. 

Luckily, I was able to transfer some credits from my college time in Brazil, and that gave me the liberty to reach for a double-major (in Cinema and Art History) and also take several film production and film theory classes. So I feel like I made the best out of that experience. 

And on top of that, I got that great projectionist gig right on my first year... It was just great to have an excuse to see Battleship Potemkin, Buster Keaton's The General and all those Chris Marker films again and again and again.

Repetitive viewing is how you really connect to some of these dense works, and I have to thank Patty Zimmermann for trusting me to work for her during those years.    

Rodrigo at Kino Lorber

SS: What company do you work for and what do they do?

RB: I work for Kino Lorber Inc, a film distribution company based in NY that specializes in foreign films, classic titles and some avant-garde work.

I am responsible for the company's publicity and communications departments, and on top of that, try to attend some US and International film festivals (as much as possible) to help my bosses find new and exciting works. 

It's a challenging job, especially because I'm often responsible for how our films are perceived in the media - and specially, among critics. And I am always dealing with indie filmmakers too, and I see up-close how they pour their hearts onto these films.... So I feel a certain degree of responsibility towards them.

But frankly, I wouldn't want to see films just as products... 

SS: As a distribution company would you feel that your role is extremely important to the current film industry?

RB: The role of the "film distributor" is changing violently these days, and even more rapidly now than five or eight years ago.

So, I do feel that the role of the distributor is important, but I also feel like more and more, we are being asked to re-invent ourselves-- and also, to justify our roles and choices as gatekeepers.

The economy is making people re-think their spending habits, old networks of distribution are falling apart, new technologies are resisting old forms of monetization, and what may be the most important point here, our relationship with cinema and media is changing.

The ways in which we create value around our films are different now, and the whole relationship among critics, academics, industry and audiences is so different than it used to be.

The questions of how we create value, and then, how to communicate the importance of these works to different audiences, has never been more important. And frankly, sometimes we learn by mistakes.

Rodrigo on His Current Work

SS: What have you done recently that you can talk about?

RB: Well, I am doing a lot of different things right now, but maybe the hardest thing I am "doing" right now is to sort of re-invent my job.

I used to have this script about how to promote a film, that usually started with a film getting a modest theatrical release and then, expanding to other markets and finally, ending up on DVD. Now, there are dozens of ways to release a film in the market, and the press has also become less scripted.

Different outlets now have different interest and priorities, and new technology is becoming such a major part of my job... So, I often find myself having to re-invent the wheel---as I'm driving the car! 

I just came back from SXSW and frankly, it's always amazing to see how new media, cinema, coding, design, and music are fusing into these hybrid artistic and commercial forms.

Ten years ago, it looked like the business community was taking over the film world. Nowadays, the indie/foreign film distribution scene is made of great film academics who can write HTML5, CSS3, PHP and Javascript! Seriously...

SS: What film(s) are you currently promoting?

RB: Right now, I am promoting a Danish war documentary called Armadillo, a German film about a famous Spanish restaurant called El Bulli, and a Chinese film about the raping of Nanking called City of Life and Death.

Rodrigo at FLEFF

SS: Having been to FLEFF before what do you think of the programming/topic for this year?

RB: I like that FLEFF thinks outside the box when it comes to its categories, especially because this way, the categories themselves (and the context in which the films are presented) become part of the film experience. That way, we already walk into the theater asking questions.

In a much less exciting and daring way, that's kind of what I do at Kino Lorber: I'm always trying to push audiences to interpret, discuss and engage with our films. I also think that the idea of checkpoints evokes a multitude of feelings, from reflection to resistance and struggle.

It's both a powerful image and crippling idea, and one that makes us realize the collective and constantly shifting nature of our modern lives. It makes me think that "stopping" is sometimes important and necessary.

And yet, it reminds me that "checking," or even simply naming and categorizing, can be a powerful form of oppression.

SS: Are you excited for FLEFF? Anything specific?

RB: I am super excited about finally seeing A Film Unfinished, Budrus, Los HerderosPueblos Unidos: Swine Flu Ground Zero in Mexico and Sex in An Epidemic

SS: Will you be in attendance for FLEFF 2011?

RB: Yes! And I can’t wait!

* * * * * * * *

I would like to thank Mr. Rodrigo Brandão for his time.

This very modest man does a lot in the film world. I am glad he was able to spare some of his knowledge with us. He raises some incredible points. I hope that you enjoyed reading these responses as much as I did.

And better yet. He will be joining us at FLEFF!

There was one point Mr. Brandão made that I would like to talk about. He said he “wouldn’t want to see films just as products.” Do you think that currently we are moving in a direction where film is becoming more of a product and less of an art?

 


6 Comments

Yes I do believe that film has lost its original art form and has become more of just a product, it's sad that the monetary rewards are more important than the emotional or intelectual rewards a well thought out film could actually deliver. My hopes are high with those young adults who could and should work hard at putting art back into film...

I wonder how you get a distributor. And how much everything costs. I'm not sure if the distributor is in charge of the actual production of the DVDs (like copying them to DVDs and making the plastic casings) or they just hold the rights to the film

Shawn, thank you so much for posting this interview! It is incredibly inspiring to read about how an individual who used to be in the same position as me, an Ithaca College student, has an incredible job connected to what his major was. It way also moving how he is still actively involved with the film community outside of work with activities such as attending FLEFF.

Karla you are more than welcome for this. I too was extremely impressed with his work and actions. Also, just his own thoughts on how the film industry is moving were extremely thought provoking. And if you keep working I'm sure you will end up doing the world some good with your own actions beyond college.

Great interview as it is always interesting to hear more about the distribution side of the film industry. I found it most interesting that he is having to sort of "re-invent" his job to keep up with the ever changing world of film and film distribution. With so many more web 2.0 and multi-platform projects coming out I can definitely see how challenging it can be for someone who might have entered that world when it was filled with what we could call more "traditional" narrative and documentary films. Times are changing, and changing very quickly.

Shawn,
Awesome interview. To answer your question, my brief answer would be no. Of course films will always be created and distributed with money in mind. And the film world changes based on how films are being received by moviegoers/buyers. It's funny, too, that you say "art" when there are still people who debate film as an "art" medium! (Silly right?)

However, I think the best of film, and the film that all people enjoy to see and will PAY to see, is that which reach the highest artistic level, which is something that will move you. I think there are too many wonderfully minded people like Mr. Brandão who will fight for those films.



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