French distributor Kinology buys fantasy film

PARIS — Spreading its net ever wider, Gaul’s Kinology has picked up international rights to Finnish fantasy “Rare Exports,” directed by first-timer Jalmari Helander.

But it also underscores another market trend — in these demanding times, there are no barriers for pickups, be they geographic, genre or budget.

Move shows Kinology shifting into the offbeat Scandi fare territory that worked so well for fellow Gallic sales agent Elle Driver when it sold Norwegian Nazi zombie pic “Dead Snow” at Sundance last year.

Kinology has carved out aniche handling some of the biggest-budget Gallic pics coming on to the market — think “The Prodigies” or Unifrance Paris Rendez-Vous sales hits “Gainsbourg” and “Heartbreaker.”

Helander’s debut is a follow-up to two shorts — “Rare Exports Inc.” and “The Official Rare Exports Inc. Safety Instructions 2005″ — which have generated more than 1 million downloads on YouTube.

Produced by Petri Jokiranta at Finnish outfit Cinet, “Exports” follows a research group hunting Santa Clauses in Northern Finland. The Finnish-Norwegian-French-Swedish co-production opens on Dec. 3 in Finland.

Kinology’s managing director Gregoire Melin said Helander, a former commercial and music video director, gives “Exports” a 1980s style kid-friendly horror-fantasy vibe.

This isn’t the first time Kinology has fished in foreign waters. It acquired Johnnie To’s Cannes 2009 competition player “Vengeance” just before Berlin last year.

The payoff can be large for producer and sales agent alike. Melin sold international outside the U.S. on Ryan Reynolds starrer “Buried,” a Spanish thriller helmed by Rodrigo Cortes, which was the first major U.S. pickup at Sundance this year.

Kinology sales allowed producers Adrian Guerra and Pete Safran to cash-flow “Buried” without dependence on Spanish subsidies or TV coin.

(John Hopewell in Madrid contributed to this report.)

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