Saturday, May 27th, the “Guide to the Distribution of Independent Films” event was held at Il KiNO.

Distribution is one of the most felt themes among producers and independent directors. As emerged during the first meeting of the Cartel of Independents (to learn more see here), many works struggle to circulate and to fully exploit their potential for dissemination. Following the spirit of the Cartel to find shared solutions, it was therefore decided to dedicate an afternoon to the possibilities of distribution for independent films through festivals, VoD platforms, rooms and sales.

During the meeting various realities in the cinema distribution were presented, some directors and producers told their experience and everything ended with an intense debate between guests and participants.

Several positive points emerged and a much richer panorama of opportunities than when we had asked ourselves the question “how is an independent film distributed?”

Below is a summary of the interventions and conclusions that have come from them.



Associak offers a distribution service for short films in the national festival circuit. The service includes the creation of promotional material and registration procedures for festivals. Thanks to the direct relationship with many festivals, it ensures widespread distribution throughout Italy.






The platforms for online registration for festivals are an indispensable tool for those who want to circulate their works at festivals in DIY mode.

The platforms allow to:

1) save time, creating a single registration valid for all the festivals in the catalog of the platform;

2) easily find the most suitable festivals for your film thanks to search filters;

3) monitor deadlines and the status of your registration.

The recommended:

Filmfreeway: very well stocked catalog, excellent search filters, free.

Withoutabox: historic platform, integrated with Imdb.

Festhome: additional paid services such as translations, subtitles, dcp; most European festival catalog.

Reelport: limited catalog but more focused on European festivals for short films.

Filmfestivallife: it is also a social network so it is useful for interacting with industry professionals.

Shortdepot: dedicated entirely to short film festivals.

Clickforfestivals: fast growing, to watch.



Gray Ladder is a company based in Turin, which deals with development and production in the field of entertainment, and above all with international, innovative and cross-media projects. The Gray Ladder team is composed of emerging talents and industry professionals; is a network made up of collaborations and partnerships across the various sectors of the production chain, which puts operators and companies that deal with entertainment into a system.

Alessandro told us about the experience of Gray Ladder especially in relations with VoD platforms and in particular Netflix, with which they distributed several works. Some of the most interesting ideas were:

1) Getting in touch with VoD distributors is not impossible, as they are farsighted and content-hungry companies, therefore open to new collaborations. Festivals and film markets create good meeting opportunities, such as the Cannes MIPCOM.

2) The best approach to approach is to present projects in an advanced development phase. Taking the example of a series, the ideal is to bring a subject for the development of at least three seasons. As for the films, instead, it is better to present more than one project, because the VoD platforms seek above all extensive collaborations rather than on individual projects.

3) Distribution on VoD platforms is not suitable for all films. Some films once sold to a player risk ending up in the so-called “offer baskets”, where they remain blocked without obtaining any visibility, while through a studied media distribution you can give your film and its production greater value.

4) The consumption of VoD is constantly growing, especially on smartphones, so it is important, if you have as your goal the distribution on VoD platforms, to think of formats suitable for use on mobile devices and tablets. An interesting example is the Studio+ app designed exclusively for consumption on smartphones by Canal+.






Online portal that allows access to cultural works released under a Creative Commons license through a free but mandatory donation. The site contains over 120 creative works directed by 80 directors, writers and musicians, from Italy, Belgium, France and England. For this reason, the documentaries are subtitled in Italian, French and English (with the possibility of assistance), and the platform is usable in the three languages. The intention of the video library is in fact to open up to the rest of Europe and the world by networking those independent productions that would hardly find space in the traditional market.

The pillars of DdB are:

– Selection upstream: works of social content or inquiry and denunciation are preferred (“A boy was dead” by Filippo Vendemmiati, winner of the David di Donatello);

– Open Culture: thanks to the Creative Commons 4.0 License the user is free to share the content (in whole or in part) as long as it is not for profit;

– Pay what you feel: culture can be profitable and remain accessible, making the user responsible for supporting the production projects of the authors in the catalog. Percentages: 50% author; 20% platform; 30% logistics costs.

DdB is also committed to promoting cultural events and networking moments between directors, cinema and festivals. Today there are more than 250 clubs throughout Italy and the affiliated spaces that host screenings and presentations of the Ddb-branded works.





Movieday is a self-distribution platform that allows you to organize screenings in movie theaters  throughout Italy. To organize a screening, simply register and reserve, for a specific date, one of the 180 movie theaters available (each one has fixed slots available per week). In this way an event is created but it is realized only when a ticket quorum is actually sold. Any film that has a censorship visa can be projected and this allows many films, which would hardly reach us in other ways, to arrive in the room.

This system allows you to organize an effective promotional launch and keep a movie in the theater until there is an interested audience; furthermore, in the event of a successful campaign, it allows to increase the commercial value for subsequent exploitations.

In the last year at least 15 productions have distributed their films through Movieday. One of the most successful examples is the documentary “Unlearning” which produced more than 100 screenings sold out with Movieday and another 80 organized by the exhibitors themselves, enticed by the large influx of spectators. Another successful example is “Figli della Libertà”: for this film Movieday was involved already in the development phase, putting tickets for the screenings among the rewards for crowdfunding offers; a particular launch was then chosen, with 35 screenings simultaneously in different cities, and inserting in-depth information on the themes of the film after the screening. The event was so successful that in the end the exhibitors requested further screenings and it was decided to leave the film on the platform.

Movieday also provides logistics services for the creation of copies, marketing and communication to help productions intercept and stay in touch with their fan base, and a consulting service for the development of their distribution strategy.







Cineama is an art-house film distribution company based on social and self-management strategies, that is by bypassing the agencies and favoring instead the tools of word of mouth and spreading on social networks. To make this distribution as effective as possible, Cineama focuses above all on intercepting the reference community of the film or on creating one. One of the most frequent methods is to create partnerships with sponsors who share the same values ​​as the film, based on mutual exchange of visibility. Very successful examples are those of the sponsorship between Legambiente and WWF and the documentary “The search for a meaning” which allowed the film to reach a very wide audience and the associations to promote their activity.

This type of distribution requires a long path of accompaniment and support for the film but allows niche films to reach large numbers of people and a pool of 150 rooms. One of the most striking examples of this strategy is “I stay with the bride” who, beyond all expectations, managed to obtain a sum of 400 thousand euros.







The National Short Film Center is a project born in 2007 as a film library and promotion agency for the Italian short film. Present in the main international markets, he is the privileged interlocutor of festivals and foreign buyers on the Italian short film market.

One of his most interesting initiatives is the Turin Short Film Market, which will take place this year for the second time within the Torino Film Festival, in the form of two calls:

– Oltrecorto: call for feature film projects, TV series, digital and gaming that are the evolution of a short film already made. The short films and projects will be presented, during a pitch, to an audience of producers and broadcasters in search of talent with the aim of building a bridge between the world of shorts and those of production. The call is open to directors and screenwriters of any age and country who have made a short film and who want it to evolve into a feature film, a TV series or a digital or a game.

– Distribution: call open to distributors, of any country, who have a catalog – national or international – of short films up to 30 ‘to be presented to potential television and web buyers, in the form of pitch.

Another interesting CNC initiative is the Italian Short Film Video Library, a platform that allows the uploading of short films, data sheets and other materials in complete safety. In fact, what is loaded is not in any way made public and only registered buyers and festival programmers have access to it and, if interested in purchasing and / or programming short films, they can contact the directors and producers directly. The annual fee is € 20 for each short film inserted.






Producer and director, he has lived and worked in Berlin for several years. Antonio spoke of his experience in the distribution in Germany of the film “Le Meraviglie” by Alice Rohrwacher and the documentary “Belluscone” by Ciprì and Maresco.

What has emerged is that in Germany there is a great interest in international cinema, especially in Berlin where 40% of theaters project in the original language. Italian cinema has a particular success, both because it attracts the German public’s curiosity a lot, and because in Germany lives a large Italian community. In fact, there are not few reviews dedicated to Italian cinema and it is not uncommon to find Italian films in the cinema, even in the original language.

One difficulty that Italian films can encounter in Germany is that of adaptation: sometimes, to make the contents understandable, meanings are distorted, but this is the problem of every international distribution.

Although Antonio has mostly talked about arthouse films but not really niche, the fact remains that Italian cinema is very popular in Germany and therefore it is certainly a foreign market to be taken into consideration even by the most independent productions. Furthermore, distributing to the German public means reaching a wider geographical area than Germany which also includes Austria and German-speaking Switzerland.


“Il Nostro Ultimo” is a direct and self-directed 2014 film produced by Ludovico Di Martino when he was still a student of the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia.

For distribution, the film had initially relied on an already established company, the “Pablo”, which had taken it to the “Sacher” cinema by Nanni Moretti. When the possibility of giving the film the “classic” distribution was presented, Ludovico chose to take a path more in line with the philosophy with which the film was made – as expressed in the opening credits “All those who participated present this film … “- and take it around accompanying it theater by theater. “Il Nostro Ultimo” has been circulating for more than two years now in theaters, festivals, and events, not only in Italy, but all over the world, and at every screening there is always a part of the cast and crew. The story of how the film was made has become an integral part of the projection.

Why was this route chosen when the occasion of a “real” distribution was presented? To answer, Ludovico argues that making a film in total autonomy still remains a way to build a launching pad to enter the real film industry and then accompany the film in its distribution (as they say “always putting our face”) remains a way to continue to do what the film was made for, that is to make the experts and viewers know and vice versa to get to know the audience and understand their tastes, communicate their ideas and their vision. The next step to be done can therefore only be another self produced film, but this time through a high level production method.

Another interesting tip was the one on the bureaucratic/legal aspect: even an on the road movie produced in a completely informal way can, without too much difficulty, obtain the posthumous authorizations for the screening in the auditorium (visa censorship).


Independent distribution often requires a lot of patience and creativity, as it is a long path of accompaniment and support for the film, which must be conceived from the beginning of a project, both in terms of marketing and budget. It is fundamental to identify your target audience (fan base) through all the means we have available, from social media to traditional associations, as they will be the real promoters of the film throughout its life, thus creating a very relationship deeper between the works in question and their audience, no longer just a silent spectator, but an active promoter of the project that he chose to support even with simple sharing.

It is important to understand which distribution strategy is best suited to your film, in order to be able to choose, on the basis of the topics dealt with and the potential target audience, exit methods and times and any sponsors to whom to bind.

Not to forget the participation in the festivals, which are often associated with the film market and during which important opportunities are created for meeting with other sector employees, potential buyers and investors. The festival circuit is an important channel especially for short films, not only because it is their main space of diffusion, but also because it can be a sort of “ram” to break through a new door: a short film can serve to present a bigger project – a feature or series – or be the link to propose new projects to potential investors.

All this must be a starting point to learn to conceive our film projects in an innovative way, to ask ourselves about the ultimate goal of the work we promote by looking beyond the traditional horizons: who are our interlocutors? How to reach them? What do they expect from us? How to surprise them?

It is important to get out of the idea of ​​individual “success stories” to create a “functioning system of successful case studies” and only the network, among many realities with different characteristics, can lead to a creative and innovative market power, making the Italian independent cinema is not a set of sporadic “success stories” but an active alternative market system that effectively attracts investors and is strong enough to claim its creative autonomy, because we are our strength and the basis of our audience is ourselves we just have to learn to look beyond.

The sharing of knowledge and study are the basis of a strong system that can someday confront itself with the great pre-existing realities.