Fall Film Festival 2011: Deauville American Film Festival

In its 37th year, the Deauville American Film Festival is building up its professional presence with a second spotlight on U.S. TV drama and the creation of a mini-mart called the Film Corner.

The Film Corner will connect international sales companies repping films playing at Deauville with distributors. The fest is teaming with the Cannes Film Market’s film database Cinando to give buyers a chance to stream films after the festival and check out what territories are still available.

Squeezed between the Venice film festival and Toronto, Deauville might have a tough time luring key players, but the fest topper Bruno Barde believes the Normandy-set fest can pull it off.

“We must become a place where film professionals can meet and start discussions. A film festival should never just be about red carpets and cocktails, particularly not in the current economic context,” Barde says.

“We always play a few films that don’t have a French distributor so the Film Corner will give them some visibility and hopefully facilitate any type of sales, whether it’s a theatrical, DVD or VOD deal.”

This year’s competition lineup boasts three pics without a Gallic distribution: Clay Jeter’s “Jess + Moss,” repped by Visit Films; Mark Jackson’s “Without”; and Victoria Mahoney’s “Yelling to the Sky,” sold by Elephant Eye Films.

While French journos have argued that the Deauville fest has lost its steam for a few years, drawing fewer big-name stars and high-profile international premieres, this year’s lineup boasts the European preems of Tribeca player Tony Kaye’s “Detachment” and Sam Levinson’s “Another Happy Day,” which won Sundance’s screenwriting award. Its guestlist includes Naomi Watts, Danny Glover and Francis Ford Coppola, who will be the festival’s guest of honor.

“Deauville is still a key event for French distributors of U.S. arthouse titles,” says Pretty Pictures prexy James Velaise, who has “Detachment,” John C. Reilly starrer “Terri” and Andrew Rossi’s docu “Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times” unspooling at the festival.

According to Velaise, “It’s become very French over the years, but it’s still a great place to prepare for the launch of a film in France because it’s attended by top French critics and journalists. We’re able to use the publicity we get there in our marketing material.”

Deauville organizers are also expecting to draw a large delegation of French and American industryites with a round-table discussion set up by the Producers Guild of America’s international committee and the French producers guild (APC).

The discussion, followed by a cocktail pour, will mark the PGA and APC’s first official meeting since the signing of an agreement in May 2010 to encourage cooperation between the two guilds and help producers looking to shoot in either Gaul or the U.S.

Meanwhile, Deauville’s TV spotlight, which attracted David Chase and Clyde Phillips in its first edition last year, has already garnered great reviews.

The TV sidebar, Season Two, will host the premiere screenings of skeins “Borgia,” “Justified,” “The Chicago Code,” “The Killing” and “Episodes.”

“Borgia” creator Tom Fontana will give a master class, while Shawn Ryan (“The Chicago Code”), Graham Yost (“Justified”) and Herve Hadmar (“Pigalles”), among others, will participate in a workshop between French and American screenwriters centering on the writing of TV dramas.

The fest will also inaugurate its New Hollywood sidebar, introducing younger U.S. talent that has broken through Stateside but is still unknown in Europe.

“We got the idea to launch New Hollywood last year when we welcomed Zac Efron, who was presenting ‘Charlie St. Cloud’: The red carpet was packed with tweeners and teens, but the adults barely knew who he was,” Barde says. “It’s Deauville’s role to promote rising talents and give French audiences a real taste of American pop culture through cinema.”

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