Exec VP, Pathe
A clever Frenchman with a very British sense of humor, Pathe’s wry and unassuming topper has combined the strengths of both cultures to emerge as a key player in the European film biz. On his watch, first as head of Pathe U.K. and then overseeing the French and British ops, the Gallic distrib was behind movies including “Slumdog Millionaire,” “The Queen,” “Hunger,” and Jane Campion’s Cannes Competition entry “Bright Star.”
Columnist, Daily Mail
Kate Winslet rushed to hug Bamigboye after winning her Oscar, cementing his status as prince of showbiz columnists. Ubiquitous at top film events, his scoops get recycled from Beverly Hills to Bombay. In an age of snarky bloggers and vacuous celebrity PR, he’s about proper reporting based on relationships and legwork. You want Baz in your corner.
He’s likely the most enthusiastic cinema lover you’ll stumble upon in Cannes this year who also has a film in the Competition. Tarantino is effusive when he digs a movie (Chan-wook Park’s “Oldboy” was a fave) and he spreads the love around. If he goes crazy for your film, he will tell everyone and even help you by putting his name on the poster. Just ask “Cabin Fever” helmer Eli Roth, who also got a part in Tarantino’s last pic, “Death Proof,” as well as his current one, “Inglourious Basterds.”
A take-charge Hong Kong pic player with increasing reach into the mainland China co-production scene, Shi is fast becoming as well-known in Beijing and Shanghai as in her hometown. A producer of her helmer husband Tsui Hark’s films via their Film Workshop, she also juggles Asian pic sales outfit Distribution Workshop and is managing director of Irresistible Films, which promotes new filmmakers. If you’re looking to penetrate Asia’s hottest market, Shi is one of your best guides.
Berney’s an old-school indie in the very best sense: He takes chances on challenging material, and his hunches often pan out. He got behind “The Passion of the Christ” and “Monster” when others shied away. He pre-bought “La Vie en rose” and helped Marion Cotillard win her Oscar. Now he’s launching a new shingle with indie backers. At a time when the domestic distrib scene is in dire need of a shot in the arm, Berney could be the one.
“Slumdog Millionaire” capped quite a year for Film4 topper Ross, who also backed “In Bruges,” “Happy-Go-Lucky” and “Hunger.” Ross nurtures edgy foreign talent (Miranda July, Mark Romanek, Hideo Nakata) as well as Brits. She has “Looking for Eric” in Cannes’ Competition and Peter Jackson’s “The Lovely Bones” coming up. With parent Channel 4 under financial pressure, her biggest challenge now is to protect her budget. That Oscar should help.
The most connected behind-the-scenes operator at Cannes for 45 years, Rissient makes it his business, as Quentin Tarantino puts it, “to know everyone who is doing anything interesting in film on the planet Earth.” Originally a publicist and later a producer and director, Rissient is most renowned for his auteur discoveries. This year, Jean van de Velde’s “The Silent Army” is under his guidance, but he also will be keeping a close eye on his proteges, Tarantino and Campion.
Co-CEO, Focus Features Intl.
Grass is the go-to guy for Universal’s ambitious drive into local-language filmmaking. An urbane German who forged his career at Miramax and Fox before joining U in London to launch its foreign production arm, Grass became co-prexy of Focus Features Intl. after a reorganization earlier this year. He’s the man charged with charting the right course from Brazil to Germany, Russia to Mexico (where Focus co-produced “Sin nombre”) and India to Italy (where he took a stake in local producer Cattleya).
Energetic, chipper and heavily French-accented, Wachsberger works the international fest circuit with aplomb. Already at the pinnacle of the foreign sales biz, his company added U.S. releasing to its activities. Summit hit paydirt with “Twilight” and now has follow-up “New Moon” in production. On the foreign side, he still gets the pick of the litter, including films by Roman Polanski and Doug Liman.
Chair, Reliance Big Entertainment
He’s the well-traveled face of the Indian conglom that made headlines during Cannes ’08. With the backing of owner Anil Ambani, Reliance inked a raft of development deals with Hollywood A-listers and invested in DreamWorks. He’ll be in Cannes with local pics this year.