Como 16.10. 1999

Pentti Kejonen

Results of the questionnaires by Media Salles about how far the movie theatre can influence cinema-going amongst young people pointed out that children and youngsters see movies mostly as entertainment and a pass-time, which they go to see in groups or with a friend and hardly ever alone. They choose the genre of film, or they go to see the film because of its subject.

Pricing policies, mailing of information home or promotional activities organised by the movie theatre have little importance.

Nowadays children and young people decide which film they are going to see even before it is released. Their choice is based on information they get from Music TV, television or film magazines. This is how it seems to happen in Finland. There are special programmes on our TV for young people, where young hosts introduce the latest films. Mostly those films are also those most talked or written about, and advertised, in other domestic and foreign media.

What kind of promotional strategies can cinemas plan to attract children and youngsters to see the right films, for example such films as are on the list of European films suitable for young audiences suggested by some exhibitor members of Euro Kids Network.

There are twelve films on the list suggested by us. Only one is in commercial distribution in Finland. It is the Icelandic film Benjamin Dove. The other films could only be seen at the Oulu International Children' s Film Festival. The festival is organised by the Oulu Film Centre, which runs Euro Kid cinema Studio.

Benjamin Dove was a big success during the festival, but when we screened it about one year later in our cinema nobody came to see it. It was a complete flop in the whole country. The distributor had believed in this film. Two prints had been ordered.

When we started our international children' s film festival 18 years ago, one of the goals was to encourage distributors to buy children' s films outside the mainstream. We didn' t succeed in this, so we started our own distribution. Wisely we offered our films like Mike Newell' s "Into the West" mostly for schools. The film was found the best by our festival's children' s jury.

In five years we got our money back, thanks to the school screenings.

The same happened to a small distributor, who bought "Le ballon d' or", that is also mentioned in the list of Euro Kids exhibitors.

We have in Finland very few examples of European children' s films, which have been commercially successful. One is the Danish animation film Jungle Jack, but its marketing budget was massive compared, for example, to ours. In a way a surprise hit was the Swedish film for young people Fucking Åmål. The producer didn' t want to give it, as usually happens, to a small distributor, that is specialised in Nordic films.

They offered it to Warner Bros. At first Warner didn' t believe in it at all. However, they started with four prints, when they got nordic distribution support and when they invited the director and the two girls who play the leading roles to the opening, they got a lot of publicity and

the audience discovered the film. Fuckin Åmål has now registered 150 000 admissions. Usually Swedish films have from 5000 to 10 000 spectators in Finland.

A few years ago The Finnish Film Foundation, Ministry of Education and Finnish Cinema Exhibitor's Association started School Kino activities. They published a catalogue of films, which were offered to cinemas at A lower price. Where normally you have to pay 6,5 Euro, in School Kino you pay 2,5 Euro. Films are introduced and recommended to certain age groups. Teaching material is also made for teachers to deal with the film in class. The same kind of School Kino also takes place in Norway.

For us, working together with schools has been very successful since the eighties. The main problem still FACES US. Where are the European films? Of those 151 films on the list of Euro Kids exhibitors only 20 are in distribution and most of them are not children' s films, like "Welcome to Sarajevo" or "My life in Pink" or "Kolya".

Oulu is a very special town when it comes to films for children and young people. Every year, once a year, 10 000 children from our town and nearby regions have the opportunity to see the best European films made for them.

I think the same is true for Giffoni in Italy and Sandnes Kino in Norway because of International Children' s Film Festivals.