Our International Sales Agent (ISA) of the Day coverage has resumed for this year's Cannes Film Festival. We will feature successful, upcoming, innovative and trailblazing agents from around the world (during and after the festival) and cover the latest trends in sales and distribution. Beyond the numbers and deals, this segment will also share inspirational and unique stories of how these individuals have evolved and paved their way in the industry, and what they envision for the new waves in global cinema.   

Mattea Lovadina

Matteo Lovadina is the founder and sole principal of Reel Suspects, a multi-faceted “all rights” distribution company based in Paris, France. He represents "feature films with a twist": films both from first-time and revered directors, including the genres of cult, classic, thriller, horror, fantasy, LGBT and erotic. His background as a photographer inspires him to choose only the richest quality of cinematography for the Reel Suspects catalog. His aim is to share the most cinematic and innovative stories.

Matteo talks about his reasonably budgeted films, the first Reel Suspects co-productions, and gives realistic advice to first-time filmmakers who are looking for distribution:

When and how did you start Reel Suspects?

I started Reel Suspects in 2011, after ten years in the business as a sales agent. When I started the company, I really wanted to focus on young directors and films by true auteurs. We love independent cinema, and it is our passion to put amazing and visually stunning films into distribution. A twist can be a genre: it can be a very strong drama, or fantasy. We are currently selling some fantasy art house horror, as we did in the past; we always try to find good films that are not purely commercial. This year's selections at Cannes Film Festival reflect our work in numerous ways, and give the sign that we are going in the right direction. The second focus is cinematography; I am a big fan of images and colors. I love when the image speaks for itself. This helps buyers to identify our quality without question.

Where are your buyers?

Cat and Mouse, from the Reel Suspects Catalog
Cat and Mouse, from the Reel Suspects Catalog

Over the years, we have developed a wide range of titles that go from youth films to experimental dramas. We have never cared about the country of origin. Being a French company, we obviously carry French films, but we really focus on the entire world. We have films from the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Lithuania, and a catalog of French and Spanish classics.

We like young talents, and are passionate to help their careers takeoff. Two years ago, we had a film called Aurora (Vanishing Waves), a glamorous and sophisticated sci-fi film by first time director Kristina Buozyte. It was a Lithuanian and French co-production, and was a worldwide success.  It was selected for all the major international festivals, and won several awards including the “Meliès d’Or”, a sort of “Fantasy Film” award renowned in Europe and abroad. It sold to nearly 25 territories between Cannes and Toronto, and was the first Lithuanian film with a theatrical release in the U.S.

How are sales?

Sales are doing well because of our “twist”. Distributors in our network know what they can find when they come to Reel Suspects. They know they will not find the 20 million dollars films. However, they also know that they will find a carefully chosen, cost-effective selection of quality films that will attract the right audience. This helps our buyers to take smaller risks on reliable niches in film. Luckily, sales are good and constantly growing, even if the competition is hard. Our films are being distributed in many countries. The festival circuit loves us, because we are defending new producers and directors and they appreciate our taste. Germany, Australia, and Japan are big for us, but we really work worldwide.

What is your background?

I was previously in the music and photography worlds. When I realized the music business was dead, I finally made the move to film.

What are some of the challenges of being a young company on the market?

The industry has this thing of labeling people. During the first year of my company, I had an erotic film that was sold to many countries. Many buyers think that I still do erotic films, and I do not. It's a struggle to get identified when you launch your own company. When you have one film that really works, people think you only do that. This year in Cannes, we had two horror films, and I can see people six months from now saying, "Reel Suspects only carries horror films." It's frustrating to be categorized so quickly, and to convince people that we're more than what they assume.

Horsehead, from the Reel Suspects catalog
Horsehead, from the Reel Suspects catalog

Do you have advice for first time directors who are looking for distribution?

You have to think before you make the film, "Am I able to find a good balance between making a film that will have a commercial success, and making a film that will only travel the festival circuit?" I think this is an essential question that all directors and producers should answer before shooting. Balance is important. With the supremacy of digital shooting nowadays, the production value of your delivery is now essential. Mediocrity is now harder to defend, when digital postproduction can help a film to be finalized in the best conditions.

Please discuss some of the films from the Reel Suspects catalog. 

I'm really excited for the market premiere of Cat & Mouse, a psychological drama by Maartje Seyferth & Victor Nieuwenhuijs. It's about a girl who is completely lost between her present and her past. It’s our first co-production. Our expectations are quite high, and we feel it will be equally successful in the commercial market and in the festival scene. 

Fièvre (new title: Horsehead) is a French fantasy horror by Romain Basset that follows the story of a student that gets lost in her nightmares.

Wild in Blue, our Cannes best seller, is an intense US indie that we recently acquired. It features the last performance of Karen Black, in a super graphic psychodrama about a psychopath who kills his girlfriends until he finds real love.

We also have the most anticipated German Angst, a portmanteau film that combines the work of three well-known horror genre directors: Jörg Buttgereit (Nekromantik), Andreas Marschall (Tears of Kali), and Michal Kosakowski (Zero Killed). It's a shocking horror film, which has already reached cult status with its large fan base.

Learn about the Reel Suspects catalog.

More About Reel Suspects:

REEL SUSPECTS is a multi-faceted “all rights” distribution company, specialized in emerging filmmakers. REEL SUSPECTS is devoted to bring a new cost-effective business model to its partners from all over the world, in the context of an international market changing forever towards new directions, and specialized niches constantly growing and evolving. Promoting films in a new and different way, with an eye on newcomers and focusing on innovative marketing approaches might be the final goals of REEL SUSPECTS.

Extended from first-timers directors to revered cinema masters, the ever growing REEL SUSPECTS‘ catalogue already presents some classic films from better-known directors, such as “Vivre sa Vie” by Jean-Luc Godard, “Une partie de campagne” by Jean Renoir, as well as the “Alain Robbe-Grillet Collection”, restored in HD and the “Chris Marker Collection”.