German Film Festival Brings Cult Movies to VOD in New Deal

Little Shop of Horrors Still - Photofest - H 2018
Courtesy of Photofest

Oldenburg organizers have teamed with local streamer FilmConfect to offer titles that can't be seen anywhere else.

For its 25th anniversary, the Oldenburg Film Festival has launched a partnership with German VOD platform FilmConfect to bring the fest's distinct brand of indie cinema to a wider, online audience.

The agreement will see FilmConfect, a boutique German VOD service specializing in indie film, host a "best-of" collection of features that has screened at Oldenburg during the past quarter-century. Users can stream the films for a one-off price of about $5.80 a title or buy a mini-subscription, or "festival ticket," allowing unlimited access to the entire collection.

"The price is a bit higher than usual for VOD, but this is a specialized audience, and we're offering them a special, curated experience," says FilmConfect CEO Martin Irnich.

Oldenburg already has uploaded more than a dozen titles — ranging in genre from Emiliano Rocha Minter's 2016 apocalyptic thriller We Are the Flesh to 2012 Finnish documentary The Punk Syndrome and Frank Oz's 1986 comedy musical Little Shop of Horrors. Most of the films, which FilmConfect will offer to users in German-speaking Europe, are not available on VOD elsewhere.

During the festival, FilmConfect and Oldenburg also will offer "virtual screenings," or limited VOD streamings, of new movies premiering at the festival. FilmConfect will sell a maximum of 500 VOD "tickets" for each title, allowing users to stream films during the festival.

"The idea is to keep the exclusivity of the festival and not to cut into the further exploitation of the films, many of which are still looking for distributors," says Irnich.

FilmConfect looks at the Oldenburg project as a distribution model for other indie festivals. The platform has a similar deal in place with Nippon Connection, a Frankfurt-based event that focuses on Japanese cinema.

"We want to offer an alternative to the bigger, more mainstream VOD platforms and give the festivals a chance to have their films seen by a wider audience," says Irnich. "Festivals like Oldenburg do a great job of curating a program for their audience. But when the festival is over, 90 percent of these films will never been seen again. We want to change that." 

This story first appeared in the Sept. 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.