Walter Presents bring the best of international television to the United States this spring.
In the basement of New York City’s NeueHouse, a crowd of international creators and influencers gather in small groups of conversations. Their style matches the décor – clean-cut and carefully designed – and they occasionally pause to accept a drink from the meandering waiters, sharing good wishes before sipping. In the back of the room, past the marble bookcases and bar stacked with bags of truffle-popcorn, is a small theatre: the venue for tonight’s event, the launch of Walter Presents in the United States.
Walter Presents is an online streaming service that aims to bring the best foreign-language television shows to the world. Founded by Walter Iuzzolino in 2016, Walter Presents features only the best foreign-language series. Its founder spends hours researching, watching and curating the top content for his viewers to enjoy. With a growing list from 12 different countries, featuring ad-free streaming, high-quality subtitling, and a subscription price of $6.99 per month, Walter Presents is set for success as a fresh on-demand content provider in the United States.
The screening begins with a brief introduction by New York Times CEO, Mark Thompson. As former CEO of the United Kingdom’s Channel 4, which is part of the shared venture with Global Series Network in running Walter Presents, Thompson has known and supported the venture for some time now. Introducing the venture’s founder, Thompson steps away and Walter Iuzzolino shares his story.
It began with his grandmothers. Walter remembers each woman having incredibly different temperaments and tastes in television shows. On the one hand, his half-German grandmother enjoyed crime shows and police series. On the other, his Italian grandmother invested herself in telenovelas, which Walter discloses often led to his grandmother crying on the characters’ behalf. When watching these telenovelas, Walter would eat his grandmother’s “specialty” – slices of white bread soaked in sugar and water – and listen to his elder’s summaries of the episodes. At a young age, Walter received an introduction to the many worlds of television.
And so, Walter set out to combine these two narratives in a single service, watching around 18 hours of world dramas a day to pick the best content the international market had to offer. The result is Walter Presents, which includes titles similar to both the police procedurals and the dramatic telenovelas. During the screening, the audience was introduced to both Valkyrien – a sinister Norwegian drama about an underground clinic for criminals and compromised patients – and a French political drama called Spin, which traces the competition between two candidates for presidency after the assassination of the country’s previous leader. In both style and content, the dramas are worlds apart but a common trait remains: they are both, as Walter states, “a great story, beautifully told.”
A protagonist from each show joins the audience. Grégory Fitoussi appears in Spin. He plays the role of Ludovic Desmeuze, the irresistible villain in the show, and is known for his roles in other international television series such as Mr. Selfridge and Spiral. From Valkyrien comes Pål Sverre Hagen, who plays a corrupt civil defense servant maintaining the bunkers for the underground clinic, and recently starred in Hans Petter Moland’s, In Order of Disappearance. Walter chats with each actor in between clips of their shows, mentioning the challenges of playing villain, the possibility of and preparation for Doomsday and of course, the nature of the show they’re sharing on his service. For Spin, Walter suggests it is “House of Cards in French” and for Valkyrien, he declares, “if you watch one show this year, make sure this is it.”
Closing the discussion, Walter thanks the audience and screens the pilot episode of Valkyrien. The episode begins with a botched bank robbery and grips the audience until the credits, dropping viewers into an underground network of abandoned subway stations turned bunkers, gang and family politics, and bootleg cancer research. If this is any indication of the caliber of content streamed on this service, the shows on Walter Presents are set to change the minds foreign-content skeptics.
Walter Presents will launch in the Unites States in March 2017. For sneak previews and more information about the founder, visit the company’s website.
Visuals courtesy of Walter Presents.