February, the month of love, is already here with Valentine’s Day just around the corner. I am not the biggest fan of this holiday as I believe that we should cherish our loved ones every day of the year and express that love every chance that we get. BUT, I do see it as the perfect time to watch romantic movies and immerse myself in stories of romance that we only get to experience in movies.
This month, FILMSTREAM’s slate of critically-acclaimed movies and world cinema classics brings a selection of wonderful movies that focus on all aspects of love. Check out our list here.
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1. VANIGLIA E CIOCCOLATO (2004)
Penelope, a mother of three, is fed up with her philandering husband. She finally finds the courage in herself to leave him to live at her grandma’s house. His interest is ignited when he finds love letters that belong to his wife, indicating a past love affair. Penelope, on the other hand, decides to follow her heart which leads her to her past lover, a Spanish painter, only to discover that he is terminally ill. Passionate, intriguing and honest, Vaniglia e Cioccolato, by Italian director Ciro Ippolito, showcases that love can be many things - all at once.
2. CHARADE (1963)
Funny, exciting, romantic and suspenseful, Charade stars Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. It is the only movie the two ever made together, in spite of Grant’s insistence on wanting to work with Hepburn again. He was quoted as saying, "all I want for Christmas is to make another movie with Audrey Hepburn," after the filming had ended. In Charade, romance and suspense ensue in Paris as a woman is pursued by several men who want a fortune her murdered husband had stolen. Whom can she trust? This one is a must-see for those who enjoy classics and old-Hollywood glam.
3. 10 RULES FOR FALLING IN LOVE (2012)
Mesmerizing Italian scenery, beautiful people, love and deception… All the key ingredients you would want in a fun romantic comedy! In Cristiano Bortone’s 10 Rules for Falling in Love, a womanizer father teaches his clumsy son the decalogue of seduction: ten foolproof rules to make any woman fall in love. But the results are not what they expected.
4. UNIVITELLIN (2016)
This 2016 short by writer/director Terence Nance takes the viewer on a trip to Marseille, France in pursuit of a love story that will change the course of two people’s lives. Aminata works as a hairdresser in an Afro hairdressing salon, Badara works as a mechanic. When they meet, their love story will be like no other. Univitellin won the Golden Gate Award for Best Narrative Short at San Francisco International Film Festival in 2017. Make sure to watch it this month.
5. JOURNEY TO ITALY (1953)
From the legendary Italian director Roberto Rossellini comes Journey to Italy, starring the Academy Award-winning actors Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders. The movie chronicles the life of an unhappily married couple as they attempt to find direction and insight while vacationing in Naples. The movie received stellar reviews from critics. Michael Atkinson of the Village Voice described the movie as, “close to watching strangers suffer loneliness despite being together. It can leave an aching bruise, but only if you’re paying attention.”
In addition, this month on Pluto TV Filmstream, we are traveling to South America.
Check out our promo to see our curated movie selection.
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1. What is the first post-pandemic movie you've seen in theaters and did you like it?
- The latest James Bond, #NoTimeToDie, was the first movie I saw post-COVID as I knew it had to be seen in a cinema. It was a #Bond for the ages with finally a little more power in women’s hands.
2. What is the best piece of advice you've ever received and why?
- The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is to #listen actively. It applies to your clients, your colleagues, and your friends and is transformational.
3. Which SPI product/service do you think has the biggest potential for Western Europe and Africa in 2022?
- #Dizi is definitely finding its place in our product portfolio. It's always a case of rising with the tide and Turkish drama is starting to educate viewers about its beauty, production levels, and great storylines which are now starting to touch a chord across my region.
SPI’s streaming service FILMBOX+ which boasts a catalog of over five thousand titles and multiple linear channels was the go-to address for watching #GoodMovies this month for many viewers across the globe. Here’s a look at what’s popular in some of our key territories in January, 2022.
SHELTER - SLOVAKIA
Slovakian subscribers of FilmBox+ had a spooky start to the new year with Julianne Moore and Jonathan Rhys Meyers led thriller Shelter (also known as “6 Souls”). Moore, who placed 11th in New York Times’ “The 25 Greatest Actors of the 21st Century” list in 2020, plays forensic psychiatrist Dr. Cara Harding in the movie. When Dr. Harding discovers that all but one of her patient’s multiple personalities are murder victims, she embarks on a dangeorus journey to find out what’s happening before her time is up. Directed by Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, Shelter is perfect for mystery and thriller enthusiasts.
CHEF - TURKEY
FilmBox+ subscribers in Turkey opted for more lighthearted entertainment where Jon Favreu’s delicious adventure comedy Chef topped the charts this month. The movie follows Favreu as Carl Casper, a head chef who quits his restaurant job and buys a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family. This movie is perfect for those in search of inspiration to embark on new adventures in the new year. Favreu is accompanied by a stellar cast in this heartwarming movie, including Robert Downey Jr. Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, John Leguizamo and Sofia Vergara. Another piece of trivia that’s enough to make your mouth water is that Favreu did his own cooking in the movie by training with food truck chef Roy Choi. Choi sent Favreu to a week of intensive French culinary schooling in preparation and the food in the movie looks absolutely delicious!
SECRETARY - ROMANIA
Romanian FilmBox+ subscribers preferred the steamy, critically-acclaimed dramedy Secretary which brought Maggie Gyllenhaal numerous awards for her portrayal of Lee Holloway, including the Best Actress trophy at Boston Society of Film Critics Award. Lee Holloway is a young woman recently released from a mental hospital who gets a job as a secretary to Mr. Grey, a demanding lawyer played by James Spader. When Lee and Mr. Grey’s employer-employee relationship takes a wild turn, things get more complicated than they could have ever imagined. In a 2018 interview Maggie Gyllenhaal recalled the role of Lee as an opportunity to "explore something that's on the edge of what I know about myself but with the protection of fiction." Think 50 Shades of Grey but better, funnier, more realistic and definitely with more character development.
GHOST IN THE SHELL - CZECHIA
This month, FilmBox+ subscribers in Czechia went for the gripping sci-fi movie Ghost in the Shell starring Scarlett Johansson, based on a manga and anime of the same name. In the near future, Major Mira Killian is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals. The movie generally garnered good reviews from critics. The Telegraph’s Tim Robey compared the movie to Momoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell (1995) and said: “There are moments which directly recreate Oshii’s best scenes, with real sets and actors performing a balletic kind of stunt-karaoke. But the story is far more graspable – more streamlined – and the gracenotes, action-free, tend to be the highlights.” This movie is a must-see for science fiction enthusiasts.
FilmBox+ combines the “lean-back” and on-demand viewing experiences by providing instant access to an extensive VOD catalog and live channels on any internet-connected device. FilmBox+’s well-curated selection of content from major global distributors features Hollywood blockbusters with world-famous stars, independent world cinema gems, TV series, documentaries, lifestyle programming, and much more. In addition to its vast VOD library, FilmBox+ also offers a variety of channels covering movies and thematic content that cater to all kinds of tastes to help viewers avoid the hassle of choosing what to watch. www.filmbox.com
**Content and channel selection on FilmBox+ may vary depending on the region.
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#WorkplaceChatis a series of bite-sized interviews with SPI International executives about their jobs, media industry trends, and their professional, SPI-related success stories.
We start off the series with Tamás Fülöp, our CEE Director of Operations.
1. How long have you worked for SPI and can you briefly tell us about your job?
I joined the SPI family in mid-2014. I’m responsible for the CEE operation, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania.
2. Linear TV consumption is still going strong in Central and Eastern Europe while SVOD is also growing. How do you expect the market to shift/evolve in the next five years?
I guess the linear TV consumption will stay significant in the following years as well. Currently, the daily usage is 4h 32 minutes (Nielsen). The daily consumption is significant also within the younger age groups (18-29 target group with 2h 21minutes per day, Nielsen).
The trend of cord-cutting has also been increasing in the last three years with TV subscriptions decreasing by 4%. We are also receiving growing SVOD usage/consumption data from our business partners which supports this trend.
3. FilmBox has been the leader in the pay-TV market in one of your key markets, Czechia, for almost two years and counting. To what do you attribute this success?
This is a real success story and here, I would like to thank especially our acquisition and programing department for their hard work and a job well done. Increasing the viewing figures relies on delivering great content and a well-prepared grid/EPG that reflects the needs of the local markets.
4. Both digital and linear content consumption has increased during the pandemic but there were many challenges faced by media industry professionals, as well, during this time. What were some of the challenges brought forth by the pandemic?
We had to understand that the world was changing completely and we had to change as well. Working from home, personally, was not a big issue, but the lack of personal meetings and negotiations was a challenge during the first couple of months. Now, these challenges seem so far off in the past considering how quickly companies -including SPI- adapted to the new world. We have all gotten so used to working via Teams, Zoom, Skype, etc that it feels like a more simple routine when compared to how we used to work.
5. SPI unveiled their revamped digital service FilmBox+ earlier last year. In your opinion, what are some growth opportunities for the service in the CEE region?
Due to the growth in digital content consumption in CEE, we expect a significant increase in FilmBox+ usage, as well. We are working towards launching our service with all of our key partners to ensure the widest household reach and accessibility of our service in the region. FilmBox+ has already integrated with multiple European operators and we continue to embark on new partnerships that we support with 360-degree marketing activities from onboarding onward.
6. Turkish series and SPI's Dizi brand are immensely popular in another one of your key markets, Romania. What do you think is the reason behind this trend?
The success of this brand is the content that is extremely popular in Romania. The Turkish content consumption is contingent upon local taste, which changes depending on the country.
7. If you didn't work in the media industry, what would you have wanted to do as a profession?
I have been in the media industry for over 25 years so this seems like a bit of a difficult question to answer. I guess I would work in the real-estate or automotive sectors.