Unifrance leaders anticipate high-profile titles

Plus ca change …

Unifrance is under new management — prexy Antoine de Clermont-Tonnerre and exec director Regine Hatchondo, but the Paris event, Unifrance’s 12th Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, (RDV) will offer very much la meme chose.

Not that 350-400 film distribution execs expected will mind.

The Rendez-Vous is a well-oiled machine and, for French sales agents, after Cannes and Berlin, their third most-important market,” Hatchondo says.

So changes are minor. Screenings will begin Thursday morning, not afternoon, as in 2009: sales agents need an extra day, Hatchondo argues.

Some 75 films, about 30 unseen, drive the RDV, which is boasting a larger cache of bigger films than in its 2009 edition.

Artistically, if not financially, French filmmaking boasts good health,” Hatchondo asserts.

The RDV opens Jan. 13 with a gala screening of Pathe’s $71.5 million docu “Oceans.” Gaumont will showcase $21 million Sahara adventure-romance “The Last Flight,” with Marion Cotillard, and may screen — and will certainly talk up — Roselyne Bosch’s $28 million “The Roundup,” chronicling the dentention of 13,000 Paris Jews in July 1942.

Wild Bunch will screen Jaco Van Dormael’s $50 million fantasy “Mr. Nobody,” while TF1 Intl. will world preem the $17 million costume drama “L’Autre Dumas,” with Gerard Depardieu and Benoit Poelvoorde.

Other world preems: from StudioCanal, novelist Marc Dugain’s directorial debut, “An Ordinary Execution,” with Andre Dussollier and Marina Hands, about a dying Stalin and his nurse; Wild Bunch’s Vahina Giocante starrer “La Blonde aux seins nus,” from Manuel Pradal (“Marie Baie des Anges”), about a museum painting heist; Gaumont’s undercover cop thriller “Sphinx,” with Cecile de France; and Nicolas Philibert’s docu “Nenette,” produced by Les Films d’Ici and sold by Les Films du Losange.

Films Distribution will push Belgian Lucas Belvaux’s true-life thriller “Rapt,” about a millionaire playboy’s kidnapping.

At private screenings, Kinology unveils Focus Features Intl.’s first French film incursions: “Gainsbourg,” in its Gallic premiere, and Romain Duris starrer “Heartbreaker.”

Wide will unveil 40 minutes of ’60s Paris femme gigolo biopic “Gigola.”

The RDV will showcase eye-catching young Gallic actresses: Cotillard, Giocante, De France and Louise Bourgoin, star of Christophe Blanc’s “White as Snow,” which MK2 will push in Paris.

On Jan. 15, Unifrance will analyze French export stats and 2010 policy thrusts, including one focusing on new talent.

Our New Wave actors are very well-known everywhere in the world. But we also need to promote new French talents,” Hatchondo says.

First steps will be new-talent pushes at RDV showcases in New York and Tokyo.

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