A wonderful place to view films you may never even have heard of!
By Patrick Donovan – Author/Screenwriter
US Navy Disabled Veteran – 1980 – 1991
Seattle, WA (The Hollywood Times) 06/16/2020
“There are thousands of films out there. Beautiful films that never make the mainstream. Well, now there’s s space for all these global films and that place is Filmatique!”
– Patrick Donovan
Meet Filmatique, a US-based movie streaming platform that streams award-winning festival films for US and Canadian audiences. FilmatiqueStreams acclaimed art-house and festival films—bold and daring works from filmmakers working in the vanguard of cinema.
Filmatique releases one new film per week, alongside exclusive filmmaker interviews and scholarly essays, carving out a space of discourse and visibility around often underseen films. In addition to the platform’s carefully curated film selection, the site also offers access to its ‘Journal’ where their teams curators publish exclusive filmmaker interviews, scholarly essays, festival coverage and more.
The site is only $4.95 a month after the first free month trial.
Who is Filmatique:
Ursula is a British-American film director and curator. She graduated with High Honors from Dartmouth College and recently completed a Masters of Philosophy in Film and Screen Studies at the University of Cambridge, where her thesis was awarded Distinction.
Born in Rome, raised in Florence, based in New York.
Creative Producer with primary focus on authors’ driven content and art-house cinema.
Melinda is an Italian-Hungarian independent film producer based in New York. She was educated at the International College Spain in Madrid. Feature film projects include Mom (Distrital Works in Progress), Summum Bonum (East End, Los Cabos 2014) and Florence, Yesterday in addition to her work on short films, music videos and web series.
The newest additions to Filmatique:
During the month of April, Filmatique launched Docs in Focus II, a collection of works by directors working in the vanguard of documentary filmmaking. In May, subscribers can expect to see two films by Chilean director Pablo Larrain, and 2 films by Mexican director Carlos Reygadas.
I love Filmatique. It’s so refreshing inasmuch that you watch films that rarely, if ever get the attention they deserve. There are so many films that missed the mainstream film festivals, aren’t recognized and the directors who deserve the kudos aren’t getting it. This gives those films, directors and writers the attention they need.
Filmatique has a section called: Talents. As Ursula describes below, “We launched Filmatique Talents last year as an initiative to discover and promote new directors. Talents is really special for us because quite often the films we’re showing have never been distributed in the United States before. Some of them have never been distributed anywhere before.” They are categorized in sections that help you with subjects that appeal to you.
For example: 8 Days of Shorts: Talents Edition, gives you a smattering of great shorts that will tickle your fancy. There’s a new group in Talents called: Filmatique Talents II. The newest features in Talents II are:
- Sister by Svetla Tsotsorkova
- Dust and Ashes by Park Hee-Kwon
- Calabria by Pierre Francois Sauter
From Filmatiques page: “Screening as part of the second edition of Filmatique’s Talents initiative is a collection of shorts by exciting new filmmakers from diverse regions, including Nepal, Colombia, India, Turkey, Mexico, and the United States.”
I encourage you to checkout Filmatique. Make some popcorn, gather your friends or family and enjoy Movie Night. I do with my family. Pizza and a movie every Friday night. It’s time for the show!
Hear the interview below for our low vision and blind audiences.
The transcription follows.
Questions for Ursula:
Patrick Donovan: Good evening or good morning, Ursula. How are you doing?
Ursula: I’m good. Patrick. Thank you for asking. I’m here in Switzerland. I’ve been self-isolating for about three months now, with my partner. Unfortunately, my family is mostly all in the States. They’re kind of dispersed across the country where they all live.
My parents are in Florida. My sister’s in California. Everyone’s kind of all over the place. I wish we could be together, but you just have to wait and see what happens, I guess.
Patrick Donovan: Yeah, I feel the same way. My mom is in Webster, New York, and she is 85 and I haven’t seen her in four years, and I talk to her almost every day and it’s important that we do that to stay connected. And you know, my 90-year-old aunt is in Florida and I haven’t seen her in 11 years, so I’m glad you’re safe and I’m glad your family’s safe.
Ursula: Thank you. You, too.
Patrick Donovan: Let’s talk about who are you and what did you do in the early part of your life, like schools you went to, what got you interested in film and what was your passion for this industry?
Ursula: I actually did not study film in undergraduate; I went to Dartmouth and studied comparative literature, but once I graduated, I moved to New York and made friends with a lot of people who were working in the arts and I think that I transitioned slowly from literature to theater to film.
It was kind of a natural evolution. At the time it didn’t make any sense, but now looking back you can always connect the dots backwards. And I guess that the common thread is that I’ve always been interested in storytelling and how we represent our experiences and how that can be a transformative experience for some people and a political act for many others.
Patrick Donovan: You speak of storytelling, and I’m a storyteller. I’ve got my first debut novel up on Amazon Kindle. I’m a screenwriter. I’ve been to Warner Brothers and working on a feature film, and for me, storytelling is therapy and it’s about the human condition and in my book, I actually put a part of me and my life with my father in there. Can you expand on what storytelling means to you, per se, and how it’s helped you?
Ursula: I think that is exactly what you’re touching upon. I think that it can be very therapeutic for a lot of people and, beyond the act of storytelling for the individual, I think collective storytelling can be a way of relating to each other and understanding each other better. For example, I can watch a film that’s made in an indigenous community on a volcano in Guatemala, and I can identify with so many experiences of this young girl that’s being portrayed on screen. Even though our lives and the cultures and the places and societies in which we live are so different, there are also many commonalities.
So I think that it can be an act of therapy for the storyteller himself or herself, but it also is therapeutic for us as viewers to see things that most people would think, on the surface, are very dissimilar from their lives, only to realize there are many deep resonances across those societies or borders.
That’s really a very important collective aspect of storytelling in addition to how we represent our lives, how we make sense of our lives. A lot of times life doesn’t make any sense at all. So if you can give a structure or significance to it, I think that it’s very important.
Patrick Donovan: I agree with you a hundred percent. You know, just, I love creating stories that people can get something out of and hopefully make a difference in their lives. So, you have Filmatique with Lorenzo Fiuzzi. How did you two meet and what was the catalyst for starting filming?
Ursula: So actually, there’s three founders: me, Lorenzo, and Melinda Prisco. Melinda, Lorenzo and I all met in New York in our early twenties where we had many mutual friends who were all involved in independent film production. It was a really formative period for all of us and looking back on those times now, especially now that we all feel so isolated, it’s very clear to me that living in such a vibrant, multicultural city and also living those experiences together really shaped who we were and also who we were to become.
I suppose the catalyst for Filmatique came from how we sought to educate ourselves. For most of us, film school was prohibitively expensive, but we were still really curious about films that were being made outside of the mainstream and outside the Anglophone world—foreign films, or the type of the films you would see at the Sunshine or Angelika or Film Forum. We just knew that there were so many other films like that out there that weren’t even reaching a city like New York.
So, we would basically save up our money and go to film festivals. That was the place where we thought we could open our eyes and educate ourselves on what was being made in real time, so to speak.
I remember the first time we arrived in Cannes; it was like arriving in a temple. We stayed in this dreadful Airbnb, like so far outside of town that we should have taken the bus, but we would always just end up walking. It would take us close to an hour and we’d arrive on the Croisette, sweaty and already tired and there would be the people handing out the trades, Variety or The Hollywood Reporter, and we’d stand in line waiting to get into the 9:00 AM screenings. For us it was almost a spiritual experience just to be there and it was also fun and exciting and new.
So we’d watch the films together and then arrive breathless back in New York to tell our friends about them. But most of them never came out. They just simply disappeared, or they didn’t get distribution—you know how tough the industry is for so many films, especially films from countries outside of Europe and Anglophone territories.
People, at least back then, just didn’t even think that people were interested in these films or didn’t consider them commercially viable outside the festival circuit. Obviously, it’s getting better, especially with Parasite winning last year and suddenly the industry is super interested in foreign films, as if that audience wasn’t there before. The point is its part of a trend that is ticking upwards in recent years more than anything.
So, for us, Filmatique was a way to make sure that those festival films continued to be seen and talked about. The company originated it from personal experiences, but then it gained traction because I think that people do want to watch those films. They just don’t know where to watch them.
Patrick Donovan: You speak of Parasite? I was at the WGA awards this past February 1st and I met Bong Joon-ho and it was before the awards and then he won. And I was like, wow, this guy is amazing. And you know, it’s just, I was there, and I met a bunch of other people and met, a person again, who was it? She does a Handmaid’s Tale. Nena Fiori! She won again and it was beautiful. Then she remembered me from a few years ago because I was there. But it’s really interesting that you speak of these films that are forgotten or not getting the, exposure they need. So. You know, what is unique about Filmatique that’s different from say: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, or the other streaming platforms.
Ursula: I think that the first differentiating factor is that we only stream contemporary films. Netflix and Hulu and Amazon, and also I think that companies that we’re a bit more similar to such as Mubi or the Criterion Channel, have classics, they have documentaries, they have series, whereas we focus exclusively on feature films made in the past 10 years, more or less.
As we’ve also spoken about in this interview, film is a representational medium, and there continue to be so many communities whose stories are not told or seen or represented to the extent that they should be. So, for us, there’s a political dimension to identifying emerging directors and promoting their works exclusively and specifically and having that be our core focus.
I think the second aspect of Filmatique that’s different from the streaming giants is that we only release one film per week. That’s a conscious choice. What we’re trying to do is move against the grain of consumption-driven streaming models. We really want our audiences to slow down and think critically about what they’re watching and to engage with these films with their senses and not just zip through them. It’s the opposite of the binge-watching model, if that makes sense. What we’re committed to is actively trying to cultivate a more attentive viewing culture.
Patrick Donovan: Oh, that makes complete sense. And I think you’ve already answered my next question: what are some of the special blends of films that you have on your platform that sets you apart from the rest? And I think you’ve already answered that, didn’t you?
Ursula: I think that I answered that, but another aspect, just because you use this word ‘blend’ here, which I really like, is all of our films are curated into monthly series. We try to arrange the films in fresh and original ways, running monthly series that are typically organized around specific aesthetic or geographic or thematic focuses. We’ve done focuses on Brazilian filmmakers, on female directors, we’ve done a queer cinema series, and one of my favorite series we did last summer is called Ecologies.
This series is comprised of films from all across the world—Ixcanul, the film from Guatemala I mentioned earlier, a really interesting documentary about hurricane Katrina, a film from Thailand by Singaporean director Kirsten Tan, who’s a very talented young female director, and finally Markus Imhoof’s award-winning documentary More Than Honey—and what holds the series together is that all these films are exploring the nonhuman: ecological considerations and climate change and animal worlds.
So, what we’re trying to do with the series is place together what might be perceived as dissonant films to see how they can open up really interesting spaces of reflection, or conflict, or unexpected parallels.
Patrick Donovan: That’s interesting because I did an interview with Paul Rosalie. He is the guy that explored for 13 years, the Amazon jungle and reported several months ago that the Amazon was burning if you recall that he has a great film on his website. I might put you in touch with him. He explores the indigenous peoples there. He explores everything about the Amazon. It’s just a truly amazing experience. And he does tours down there too. But Paul is a interesting guy cause you speak of stuff like that. And you know, when you talk about, doing films that are about things other than what isn’t the norm and that just came to mind. That’s why I said that. What are some of the exciting things that are coming down the pike Filmatique?
Ursula: Right now, we are extremely busy because we’re in the midst of programming one of my favorite series, Filmatique Talents. We launched Filmatique Talents last year as an initiative to discover and promote new directors. Talents is really special for us because quite often the films we’re showing have never been distributed in the United States before. Some of them have never been distributed anywhere before.
One of the most successful films that we had from Talents last year as a film from Venezuela called La Soledad, by Jorge Thielen Armand, which ended up being one of the most viewed films on our platform all year. It’s a really beautiful first film shot in Caracas and gives a clear portrait of the Venezuelan crisis through the eyes of one family that’s on the verge of losing their family home. It’s an intimate and moving work that really opened a lot of people’s eyes.
We got a lot of feedback from our subscribers saying how much they enjoyed that film and how much it made them think about life inside a country that you only read about in the news. You never really get to see it from the inside. So what the film offers is an allegorical story and how we can see on a human level what’s going on there rather than as a headline in the newspaper.
So that’ll be really exciting for us, we’re in the middle of programming it. The deadline’s in four days so we’re in the full swing of things. I can’t really say much about the lineup besides that there are some incredible shorts, documentaries, and narrative works, all first or second features, many films from female directors, and a lot of very exciting works from the Global South.
Patrick Donovan: So, do you do Sci-Fi, to at all or just, ah, you know, international, non-distributed films in the regular mainstream.
Ursula: I actually don’t know if we’ve ever done Sci-Fi to be completely honest, I would tend to say no, but I can’t be a hundred percent sure. We might’ve had one or two films that were more genre, not strictly Sci-Fi, but they might’ve had some elements in the story itself.
Patrick Donovan: That’s amazing. Thank you. That’s really great to hear the successes that you’re achieving. Can you tell our readers and listeners, because I’m going to be posting this actual audio, how they can get Filmatique and how they can sign up?
Ursula: Filmatique is available in the US and Canada. It costs $4.95 a month for a subscription, which you can cancel it any time, but prior to that, we have a 30-day free trial. So you can just go to our website, Filmatique.com and sign up for that trial whenever you want and you can watch as many films as you want for 30 days. It’s pretty straight forward, I would say.
Patrick Donovan: Great. Well, listen, thank you Ursula for your time, we look forward to hearing more about Filmatique. Will you keep us posted on any updates that you have?
Ursula: We definitely will. Thank you so much.
Patrick Donovan: Yes, ma’am. Bye. Bye.