Coming Soon: Monsoon

Kinosmith CEO Robin Smith on the theatrical distribution strategy for Sturla Gunnarson's latest doc.
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Coming Soon, a new editorial feature from Playback, highlights the distribution strategies around soon-to-be released Canadian films. Here, we speak to Kinosmith CEO Robin Smith about the distribution strategy for the Sturla Gunnarsson’s India-shot documentary Monsoon.

The film: The documentary looks at how the monsoon, an annual weather pattern that sweeps through India every year, and how it influences the lives of people throughout the country. The documentary had its world premiere at TIFF, and was selected for TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival and won the festival’s People’s Choice Award.

Distributor: Kinosmith is handling the Canadian theatrical distribution of the documentary, as well as additional windows. Israeli distributor Cinephil holds the global rights to Monsoon.

Production credits: Monsoon is a Canada/French coproduction written and directed by Sturla Gunnarsson. The doc is produced by Ina Fichman and coproduced by Luc Martin-Gousset. The film produced by Intuitive Pictures and Point du jour production, in association with CBC and ARTE with the participation of the Canadian Media Fund, the Rogers Documentary Fund and the support of the Centre National du Cinema.

Theatrical run: Monsoon will open in Toronto on Feb. 27 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox and on March 13 at the Cinema du Parc. It will also screen at the VanCity theatre in Vancouver in March, although an exact date has not yet been set. The documentary will have at least a week-long run in all of the theatres, with the potential to extend depending on performance, said Robin Smith, CEO of Kinosmith. The film has also done an extensive pre-theatrical run in smaller markets via film circuits with a total of about 25 bookings.

“(The film circuit) to me, is great, because it provides great word of mouth (promotion) for the film in markets that normally don’t necessarily get the major media feed. Hopefully it will create a demand for this film to come back to the market down the road,” Smith told Playback Daily. Monsoon was also selected to the TIFF Top 10 festival, and is doing a national tour via that festival’s film circuit.

Additional windows: A condensed version of Monsoon will air on CBC’s The Nature of Things this spring. The distributor will have to wait until after the doc airs on CBC and finishes an exclusivity window before it can be launched on VOD, Smith said. However, the distributor has already closed a deal with Air Canada for the doc, where it will be featured in in-flight entertainment systems from April 1 to July 31. The distributor also has the rights to the French-language version of Monsoon, and is looking into possible opportunities in Quebec. “We are exploring some options to see if it will be embraced in the Francophone community,” Smith said.

Target audience: The distributors are targeting the South Asian community for the film, who have thus far embraced the documentary throughout its festival run, Smith said. The distributors are also targeting an older demo for Monsoon, catering to a “virtual tourism” audience who may want to see and experience India and the power of the monsoon but may not be up to making the trip. “It is a travelogue movie in some way,” Smith said.

Marketing: The film had an extensive festival run and has garnered favorable critical reviews, which will help the distributor market the Monsoon’s theatrical release, Smith said. The distributors have hired publicists to promote the film’s upcoming theatrical release, as well as outreach coordinators who will be doing social media outreach with a focus on the South Asian community.”We are going after cinephiles as well, knowing Sturla’s filmography and his credibility. We are highlighting this as one of his best and brightest movies to date,” Smith added. In addition to the social media outreach, the distributor will be doing some traditional media buys to market the film, mostly in print.

What makes this film unique? Smith noted that while the film is about a weather pattern, the documentary is less about the actual monsoon and more about how the event impacts the population, and what good and ill it can bring. “It is a fascinating inside look at how a country is so regulated in so many different ways by this weird, unknown anomaly that happens every year,” Smith said.

Budget and financing: Financial support for the $1.4 million documentary included funding from the Canada Media Fund’s English POV program and the Rogers Documentary Fund.