Rendez-Vous attendees toast Gallic co-productions

PARIS — Three “c”s colored biz at the 12th Unifrance Rendez-Vous in Paris: cost-cutting, caution and co-production.

Unusually for France, few new big projects were being brought onto the market. Those that were, such as Wild Bunch’s “The Burma Conspiracy,” set up at France’s Pan-Europeenne and Wild Bunch Germany, look set ever more to take advantage of Euro co-production, offsetting generally tough markets abroad, and the decline of the U.S. speciality market.

RDV buyers were put up in the lap of luxury at Paris’ Grand Hotel. New film budgets suggested less largesse, however, as producers adapt costs to market demand.

Despite its multinational locations, “Conspiracy’s” cost, at about Euros 20 million ($30 million), is in line with EuropaCorp’s strictly-budgeted actioners.

Unifrance’s confab is popular with buyers and sellers alike.

We get to meet all the buyers and prepare the ground for Berlin without the stress of a big market,” observed Wide Management’s Anais Clanet.

Every year at the Rendez-Vous, you’ll have one or two breakouts,” added Roissy’s Yohann Comte.

This year saw one which sparked a buyer stampede: the Kinology-sold “Heartbreaker, an early Focus Features Intl. co-production with France.

A romcom starring Roman Duris and Vannessa Paradis, “Heartbreaker” reportedly managed to be both romantic and funny — a rare combination for French films, one attendee observed.

Equally rare, “Heartbreaker” prompted sustained applause and on-the-spot trading: of major territories, Lucky Red took Italy, Alliance Canada and Contracorriente Spain. Revolver bought the U.K. at the AFM.

The big market preem was also Kinology-sold and FFI-co-produced, “Joann Sfar’s Gainsbourg,” a bio of French singer-composer Serge Gainsbourg, which has notched up healthy pre-sales.

Reactions ranged from the ecstatic to disconcerted at director Sfar’s bold out-there portrait of Gaul’s uber-sybarite.

Of other screeners, best buzzed was Films Distribution-sold “Rapt”: the tale of a bad-boy billionaire’s kidnapping engrossed a packed audience and sold in Paris to Blighty’s Artificial Eye and Germany’s Square One.

Other films had fans. But with 73 unspooling, there was little major consensus.

Distributors who caught it warmed to thesp-screenwriter Patrick Elbe’s directorial deb, “Turk’s Head,” a story-driven social issue film set in an high-rise immigrant banlieue.

Sold by StudioCanal, Marc Duguain’s “An Ordinary Execution,” a clasically-shot drama about Stalin’s last nurse, also screened to upbeat response.

Feel-good pics and comedies saw traction. Other Angle arranged a second screening for Christopher Thompson’s ’80s rock group saga “Bus Palladium;” Films Distribution sold “Wedding Cake” to Contracorriente in Spain.

But this year’s market, which ran Jan.14-18, found buyers particularly picky.

Personal tastes are one thing. The challenge is whether films are releasable and can recoup investment,” said Jakob Duszynski at Poland’s Gutek Film.

As the market wound down, EuropaCorp arranged a select screening for Richard Berry’s “22 Bullets” with Jean Reno as a good-fella turned family man who is shot 22 times. He lives to wreak vengeance.

Pre-sold in a swath of territories, “22” opens in France March 24.

With the Besson-directed “The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Sec” bowing in April and “Arthur and the Two Worlds War” in the second half of the year, this could be EuropaCorp’s year.

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