Selling Palestinian director Hany Abu Assad's Omar – 1/2

Interview with Caroline Daube, in charge of marketing at German international sales agency The Match Factory

Palestine, Industry

Selling Palestinian director Hany Abu Assad's Omar – 1/2

After his controversial Golden Globe-winning film Paradise Now, Palestinian film director Hany Abu-Assad is back with Omar, a film where human relationships are determined by the surrounding political context. Omar's love story with Nadia would have been different in another place, but here, at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is just an impossible story.

Omar is one of the first Palestinian films to be completely produced by the Palestinian cinema industry, and the first Palestinian film to have been selected for the Un Certain Regard section in Cannes, where it won the Jury Prize last May.

To discover how such a film is sold at the festival stage, Euromed Audiovisual, in partnership with Europa Distribution, interviewed Caroline Daube, in charge of marketing at the film's international sales agency The Match Factory.


What was the strategy for your social network campaign? 

Our main target was to create awareness about Omar before the film premiered in Cannes.

We created a film page on Facebook. We worked in close cooperation with Sarah Calderon from The Film Agency, who carried out our regular social media briefing before and during the festival. 

We launched our visuals like the artwork and our key stills to enhance the number of Facebook fans. Our main targets were the industry, film fans, fans of Hany’s previous work and also the Arabic world, which has an impressive network.

What was your campaign strategy for Twitter? 

We created a Twitter account for the movie and Sarah posted items almost every day - things to keep it active throughout the content and throughout the Cannes Film Festival. We also provided her with our stills selection, excerpts, our artwork etc.

With that material, she stayed active on both social networks -- Twitter and Facebook -- throughout the festival in order to raise awareness about the film. 

The response to Omar was overwhelming and was crowned by the Un Certain Regard Jury Award. This helped a lot to garner even more attention for the film. In addition to that, we instructed Sarah to participate in every event related to the premiere in Cannes and to take photos as well as do some documentation of all the activities happening during the festival.

After the première, she shared the main reviews on both Facebook and Twitter. 

Are you going to send the film to other festivals? 

Yes, of course. It was a world premiere, and now we are working together with the producers on the strategy to decide to which festivals it will go to after Cannes.

Does participation in film festivals have priority over theatrical release? 

It depends on the distributors' strategy, because they plan individually according to their markets. So we always work in close cooperation with the territories that have already bought the film. We discuss, but distributors are responsible for the launch and strategy in their territory. 

So the distributors are quite independent in terms of the film's release? 

We provide them with what we have already built, and with the Facebook page -- we are still working on it -- to give it to every local distributor so that they can use the community we have already built up.

We are working on a calendar and on how to implement rules for the different distributors so that not everything that happens will be visible to everybody. 

Are distributors also independent when it comes to visibility tools?

We always work on the main materials in close cooperation with the producers. We will also provide our distributors with a trailer. In this case, we cooperate with the French distributor Pretty Pictures in a joint venture for the trailer. As for all the other materials, we offer the poster, all the official press stills, and our press kit.

What is it like to sell a film from the Arab region? Is it different? Difficult? 

We had a very high awareness already, because the director is known and made a great hit with Paradise Now. So the expectations were already high in Cannes and have been fulfilled by press and buyers.

Besides social networks, what other communication tools have you used? 

The Cannes Film Festival was [where we launched] the film, so one of the most important tools was to inform our clients, with details of the film, in advance.

We work in close cooperation with our sales team and our press agent regarding the communication strategies and send various mailings to buyers and to the press before the festival starts. We also prepared a press kit with key stills, texts and an interview with the director that reflects the vision and gives an overview of possibilities on how to market the film. During the festival, our press agent Richard Lormand coordinated with all the media.

Our goal was to get reviews and various press [outlets] from the main territories to give the greatest possible exposure to the film and the director.

Of course, we also worked with the artwork and the stills of the film to emphasise the stringent and consistent visual strategy.

We also chose strong excerpts of the film to underline the great story elements and visual artistic tone of the film. They were launched on Facebook as well.  

Does your timeline for sales depend on the Cannes Film Festival? 

The most active timeline for our activities was before and after the premiere. 


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