Fresh start for Avoriaz fest

French cinema is set to get a snow-covered promotion Jan. 15-19 when the revamped Avoriaz Film Festival unveils 14 Gallic pix to distributors from across Europe.

Avoriaz dropped its traditional horror pic theme after selections for last January’s event drew criticism for poor quality. Gerard Bremond, fest topper and president of the Pierre et Vacances group — which developed the Avoriaz ski resort — said he wanted a change.

Under the guidance of Unifrance Film Intl. boss Daniel Toscan du Plantier, fest management has decided to use Avoriaz as a showcase for local production, just as Florida’s Sarasota Film Festival promos Gallic pix to the American market.

Festival co-presidents Toscan du Plantier and Bremond have invited around 50 distributors from Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Holland, Portugal , Scandinavia and the U.K. to catch premieres of the latest French productions.

“The irony about France is that we spend a good deal of time promoting other people’s films via festivals but we haven’t really done it for ourselves,” Toscan du Plantier told Daily Variety.

Toscan du Plantier has long argued that with the public attending the screenings, foreign distributors can get a better idea of audience reaction.

“It’s difficult for a distributor to turn around to a producer and say he doesn’t like the film if he has just left an auditorium where the audience was in fits of laughter.”

Bremond and Toscan du Plantier intend to use the media-friendly atmosphere to whip up support for French films.

The event will also get a media boost when Georges Cravanne, head of the French Cesar Awards, unveils this year’s nominations Jan. 16 at Avoriaz.

The following films will be screening at the non-competitive Avoriaz festival:

“Les Annees Lycee: 1975 — Le Peril Jeune” (Cedric Klapisch)

“Dieu Que les Femmes Sont Amoureuses” (Magali Clement)

“Elles Ne Pensent Qu’a Ca” (Charlotte Dubreuil)

“La Folie Douce” (Frederic Jardin)

“L’Histoire du Garcon Qui Voulait Qu’On L’Embrasse” (Philippe Harel)

“Kabloonak” (Claude Massot)

“Mina Tannebaum” (Martine Dugowson)

“Montparnasse Pondichery” (Yves Robert)

“Neuf Mois” (Patrick Braoude)

“Pushing the Limits” (Thierry Donard)

“Quand J’Avais Cinq Ans, Je M’Ai Tue” (Jean-Claude Sussfeld)

“Tombes du Ciel” (Philippe Lioret)

“La Vengeance D’Une Blonde” (Jeannot Szwarc)

“Le Voleur et la Menteuse” (Paul Boujenah)

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