Buyer's badge a welcome addition

HOLLYWOOD — Cannes’ 54-year-old film festival and the 41-year-old market, once wary partners, are finally coming together in an atmosphere of mutual cooperation.

“We will utilize all the synergy between the festival and the market,” confirms market exec director Jerome Paillard. “We are making attempts to reduce frustration for standing in line and getting tickets.”

According to Paillard, fest prexy Gilles Jacob, who stepped down last year as Cannes Intl. Film Festival director, has of late been very involved with the market.

One welcome advance is the buyer’s badge, a market program introduced last year that allows registered buyers easier access to festival screenings, and naturally, priority access to market screenings.

The fest’s decision to reduce the total number of fest accreditation approvals by 5% this year should hopefully result in less crowding throughout the city, although the market reports that preregistrations are up by 8%.

U.S. preregistrants are down slightly, while U.K. and Japan participants are up 8% over last year. The market continues to internationalize, with Ecuado, Pakistan and Sri Lanka participating for the first time, and Thai registrants are up significantly.

Going digital

Dot-com fallout notwithstanding, the MITIC entertainment technology pavilion is fully booked, with 30 booths, including Barco, Final Draft, Boeing, Sony and Dolby showcasing production, post and projection tools.

Sony will be displaying the 24p camera that George Lucas used to shoot “Star Wars: Episode II,” while Philips Digital Imaging will show new high-definition technologies.

Several MITIC events will showcase developments and digital cinema and digital filmmaking.

Two digital-sound screening rooms have been added to the market screening rooms, making a total of 15 rooms booked by the Cannes that are equipped with digital sound. All eight rooms in the Riviera building are equipped with the latest Dolby CP650 cinema processors, and four rooms in the Palais have been upgraded to Dolby Digital, for a total of 22 Dolby Digital theaters.

In its second year, the Riviera building has added 21 sales and distribution companies to the office center, designed specifically for film professionals. For the most part, companies seem happy with the chance to give up pricey hotel suites for seaview offices with a nearby cafe.

“We moved from the Carlton to the Riviera last year,” says Promark prexy Jon Kramer, “and we were very up in the air about it. What we learned was the buyers would prefer everybody to be in one place.”

Promark is taking over CLT/Ufa’s prime spot this year, which benefits from a terrace and fresh air.

“The worldwide economy is very shocking at the moment,” Kramer warns, “but the positive is that buyers will be there to buy. I don’t know how much supply is really going to be available.”

Promark will screen “The Last Run,” with Armand Assante, and “The Shipment” featuring Matthew Modine and Robert Loggia.

Lions Gate VP of international sales Nick Meyer concurs about the Riviera: “It’s all about the space. We were one of the charter members, we’re right on the ocean. And the buyers are getting more and more receptive to it, there’s a catered bar with everything you need and you can sit outside.”

At the fest, Lions Gate will screen a promo reel of the Bill Paxton-directed “Frailty,” the company’s biggest film to date, which is slated for a $10 million P&A campaign.

Going global

In the event of actors and/or writers strikes, U.S. distributors “are going to have to think outside the box,” says Meyer, “There’s still going to be great movies out there.”

He adds that foreign films could benefit by having a chance to find a bigger audience in the U.S. if there’s a dearth of domestic pics.

“We know there will be more product and more requests for screenings than ever,” says Paillard, as buyers will be stocking up against a potential shortage of Hollywood production.

Distribs looking to check out international fare will find several additional countries represented in the Intl. Village adjoining the Riviera. New players this year are the Export Union for German Cinema, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the South African delegation. The trio are joining national trade bodies from the U.K., Italy, France, Holland, Ireland and South Korea, as well as the American Pavilion and Europe’s Media Program.

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