The Isa of the Day segment of SydneysBuzz resumes for the Cannes Film Festival 2015. ISAs, or International Sales Agents, help to bring films into global distribution by selling distribution rights to distributors worldwide. Topics include new trends in distribution and sales, inspirational success stories, film slates and more. A worthy read for any serious filmmaker looking to have a better understanding of the chain of business between producing a film and sharing it with the world.Philippa Kowarsky
is the Managing Director of Cinephil
, an international sales company that is renowned for securing financing and distribution for documentaries from all around the world. Kowarsky started Cinephil
18 years ago on the first of January in 1997.Cinephil
has a solid history of working with award winning films including Academy Award nominee, “The Gatekeepers
“ (for which Kowarsky was a nominee, with Cinephil
as the producer); the 2014 Academy Award nominee, “The Act of Killing
, and Dror Shaul
’s “Sweet Mud”, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.
Kowarsky, the first ever film sales agent of Israel, shares more about her background and the success of Cinephil
I’ve was doing sales, marketing and production before I started Cinephil
. I worked for some studios in Israel, and got into sales because there were no companies dedicated to sales only. I was representing films at the previous company I worked at — when I left, people just kept coming to me, saying “Will you take my film?” I started Cinephil
and we got a film into Rotterdam’s mocumentary section. It was the first Cinephil
festival. I didn’t even have a proper concept or mission for my company, but I did meet sales agents from around the world, and thought, “Perhaps we could have some sales agents in Israel!” Then it became a bit more formal.
We started doing everything - features, children’s programming, and documentaries -working with Israeli and Palestinian films. Over the years, we decided to drop children’s programming, and then let go of feature films (which I still love). Now Cinephil
focuses on documentaries.
About 8 years ago, we decided to go International to represent films to the world, from the world – everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you’re based: Tel Aviv, Paris, Montreal or New York. Everyone is traveling to all the festivals, and everything is done by emails and phone. Thanks to technology, we have a very international career and life, and to make matters better, we also have Heather Wyer working for us out of Montreal. Having a North American base is great!
How did you enter the film industry?
A lot of this happened to me by chance. I received an Ma in London for communication policy studies. At the end of the day, it’s been helpful, because it has given me a deeper understanding of the media world. That’s been a strong part of Cinephil
– being able to strategize with all this know-how.
When I started 20 years ago, there was very little international film and television activity in Israel. In the meantime, the Israeli industry has developed, but getting Israeli films into festivals was a big deal back then. Now our cinema is well received everywhere. There are fabulous agencies based in Israel, including our TV channels which selling product around the world.
How is Cinephil
We do sales and distribution and act as Ep’s on films. We’ve always been into development and raising finance for films, but recently the films we’ve been working with are of a higher profile. One of the highlights is when we came in as producers for “The Gatekeepers
”, for which we were nominated for an Academy Award in 2012. In 2013, we were back in Los Angeles with “The Act of Killing
”, which was nominated as well. We are proud to work with Joshua Oppenheimer
and Signe Byrge Sorensen again on “The Look of Silence
”, which premiered in competition in Venice last year and won the Grand Jury Award on top of four other awards. Since then, it has won countless awards worldwide. We’re now working with Martin Scorsese
and David Tedeschi
on “The 50 Year Argument
Please discuss your slate for Cannes.
We‘re thrilled to be working on a Cannes Classics premiere “By Sidney Lumet” by Nancy Buirski
will present several films in the market. One is “Invasion”, by Abner Benaim
, about the USA’s invasion of Panama.
Another is a film that we just picked up in Tribeca where it made headlines, titled “Among the Believers”, which follows the growth of the Red Mosques in Pakistan. It portrays a system that offers young children free food and accommodation, and, in return, the young adepts are force fed the principles of radical Islam from the moment they can read.
Other films in the Cannes Market include “Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon”, which premiered in Sundance, and “The Yes Men are Revolting
”, which will open in the Us this summer.
“Thank You for Playing”, follows a family struggling with a terminally ill boy. Ryan, his Dad, an indie video game developer, is building a poetic, autobiographical video game to document his pain and to tell the story of his baby. It’s sophisticated, touching and timely.
Learn more about Cinephil
’s new releases here.
’s full catalogue here.
More About Cinephil
is an international sales and advisory firm, which has a strong reputation for securing international distribution, broadcasting and financing deals for documentaries from all over the world on behalf of film producers and directors.
With a history of selling unique and award-winning films,Cinephil
also acts as a strategic advisor and co-producer.Cinephil
has facilitated the sale and financing of well over a hundred films. Cinephil
represented (and produced) the 2013 Academy Award nominee, “The Gatekeepers
“; the 2014 Academy Award nominee, “The Act of Killing
“, executive produced by Werner Herzog
and Errol Morris
; “Cathedrals of Culture
“, a 3D project executive produced by Wim Wenders
and including films by Wim Wenders
and Robert Redford
, and Martin Scorsese
’s new documentary, “The 50 Year Argument
“, about The New York Review of Books. Managing director, Philippa Kowarsky
, has co-produced many films, including 2014 Academy Award nominee, Dror Moreh
’s, “The Gatekeepers
“, Dror Shaul
’s “Sweet Mud”, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and the Crystal Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, “Defamation
” by Yoav Shamir
” by Yaron Zilberman
and the award-winning “Trembling Before G-d
” by Sandi DuBowski