Bea Cuttat • Distributor, Look Now!
by Françoise Deriaz
Set up in Zurich in 1988, Swiss distribution company Look Now! aims to distribute a dozen arthouse films per year, mainly documentaries.
Cineuropa: What is the ideal film in your opinion?
Bea Cuttat: First of all, an ideal film must be one we like completely and unconditionally. We are also constantly on the look-out for new directors, with a view to becoming their long-term partners. For us, it’s very important to look for and find films with a very personal style, which bowl us over, excite us and have lasting appeal for “hardened” buyers like us. We look for films which we absolutely want for our line-up, which we’re prepared to fight to buy.
Lastly, we work for long weeks with and for the film on its release, and it’s quite simply a joy to still find the film fantastic on the umpteenth viewing and to enjoy talking with the press, exhibitors and audience!
What is your film acquisition policy?
We try to find out very early on about offers from sales companies, so we’re well prepared for the viewings. We look for the “ideal” films I talked about earlier, but you have to be able to pay for them. We have to set ourselves a limit and stick to it.
Where and how do you buy your films?
We buy foreign films at festivals, primarily at Berlin and Cannes. Thanks to our constructive relationship with sales companies, we’re also able to view a certain number of films between festivals. Our good relations with producers and directors also mean we’re often lucky enough to be able to buy films quite early. In recent years, however, it has become almost impossible to buy films well in advance just because you’ve been collaborating with the directors for many years: there is competition for all films.
In other words, you either buy the film on the basis of the screenplay to make sure you get it before other colleagues – which we’re not in a position to do – or you have to fight for the film, but given that our acquisition budgets are limited, some of our “beloved films” slip through our fingers unfortunately. For Swiss films, negotiations always take place between us and the producers or directors.
Do you come up against strong competition to get films?
Competition in the “arthouse” field is very intense, particularly in Switzerland. It’s not just tough at the acquisitions stage – which sometimes leads to risky buying strategies – but also later on, when it comes to release dates, the fight to get into the best cinemas and attract media attention.
What are the specificities of the Swiss market?
Switzerland is a trilingual country. As a result, our releases are usually split up: promotional and advertising material is created for each linguistic region. Language isn’t the only factor: we often want to align ourselves with the style and images of neighbouring countries. Indeed, Swiss French viewers often make their choices according to what’s in the French news and media, just as Swiss German viewers get information primarily from the different German media circulated in our country. If we want to take advantage of this, we have to use it as inspiration at least for the choice of film title and posters, etc.
What kind of cinemas do you release your films in?
As we only distribute arthouse films, we release them in theatres specialising in this genre; and always in the theatres best suited to each film. In our work – to which we have been committed for many years – we’re also very lucky to be able to collaborate, most of the time unproblematically, with leading movie theatre networks.
We are however aware that the digitisation of cinemas will tend to reduce the market for the films we like. Commercial films will occupy screens in greater numbers and more quickly, thus consigning “difficult” films to oblivion.