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Funny Balloons adds staff, pics

Robinet joins as head of sales

PARIS — Bucking the downward trend in the art pic market, Gallic sales agent Funny Balloons is bulking up, expanding staff and amping up its sales roster movie count.

The Paris-based company also is bringing on to the market Berlin Competition player “Mammuth,” by Benoit Delepine and Gustave Kervern, Chilean Pablo Larrain’s “Post Mortem” and “Circumstance,” by Iranian first-timer Maryam Keshavarz.

In its major exec hiring, Funny Balloons has tapped Mathieu Robinet as its head of sales. Robinet formerly headed up Overlook Ent., the sales company of La Fabrique de Films.

From this year, Funny Balloons will aim to sell an average of six to seven films a year, rather than its traditional three to five, said topper Peter Danner.

Growth reflects Balloon’s policy of nursing longterm director relationships, carefully exploiting fest play, while also zeroing in on new talent.

Also, Balloon’s director stable has seen large sales success. Sundance special jury prizewinner “Louise-Michel” from Delepine and Kervern, sold 28 territories; Larrain’s Cannes Directors’ Fortnight screener “Tony Manero” went to 20.

From Paris’ GMT Productions, “Mammuth” toplines the directing duo’s first stellar cast: Gerard Depardieu, Yolande Moreau (“Seraphine”) and Isabelle Adjani. It still boasts Delepine and Kervern’s hallmark dark comedy style but “touches on highly serious subjects: unemployment, aging, love and death,” said Danner.

“Post Mortem” is an obsessive love story, backgrounded by Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 coup. Pic is produced by Larrain’s Fabula label, Germany’s Autentika and Mexico’s Canana, owned by Pablo Cruz, Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna.

Produced by Marakesh Films and New York’s A Space Between and Pegu Pics, Keshavarz’s first fiction feature “Circumstance” is a Tehran-set teen girl friendship drama. Screenplay was developed with the support of the Sundance Institute. “Mortem” and “Circumstance” are in post.

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