Paris Project connects international filmmakers with Gallic producers

Unveiling Agnes Kocsis’ “Eden,” Manuel Martin Cuenca’s “Cannibal” and Ruben Imaz’s “Stormmaker” among a15-project lineup, the ninth Paris Project Co-Production Platform, part of the Paris Cinema fest, has confirmed its status as one of Europe’s leading world cinema co-prod forums.

Other events have a longer history or bigger name, such as Rotterdam’s CineMart or Locarno’s Open Doors, but Paris is not only Europe’s co-production and arthouse capital, but also the world’s artpic sales agent hub. Only Cannes Atelier and Berlin’s Co-Production Forum can rival Paris in those stats.

Paris Project has also registered a strong growth in submissions — 350 this year vs. 120 five years ago — and has proven to be a force in the titles it attracts: Kocsis won a 2010 Cannes Fipresci award with “Pal Adrienn.” Her feature “Eden” follows a woman allergic to almost everything who lives in total isolation. Cuenca, whose “Half of Oscar” played in Toronto last year, brings the story of a flesh-eating tailor and his love interest in “Cannibal.” “Stormmaker,” based on real-life events, chronicling the life of the fisherman who discovered Mexico’s biggest oil deposit, is directed by Imaz whose debut, “Turtle Family,” was produced by Mexico’s Canana.

Other highlights include “The Wife of the Man Who Eats Laser Beams,” a circus-set comedy from Brazil’s Helvecio Marins Jr., Asli Ozge’s “Woman and Man,” Kongdej Jaturanrasmee’s “P-047″ and Ozcan Alper’s “Future Lasts Forever.”

Denis Cote, whose “Curling” plays Paris fest’s main competition, presents “Vic & Flo ont vu un ours,” turning on two women just out of prison confronting their inner demons.

Targeting mid-size French distribution and production companies, most selected projects’ budgets range from $300,000-$3 million.

Those most likely to raise coin are “under $3 million with a minimum 70% of financing in place,” says Frederic Corvez, at France’s Urban Distribution.

According to topper Thibaut Bracq, Paris Project is “ever more useful as many countries — Hungary, for instance — cut public film aid.” He estimates 50% of projects at the co-prod meet find a partner.

“(It’s an) open door for Latin America to launch new directors onto the international market,” says producer Sara Silveira of Brazil’s Dezenove.

Presenting Caetano Gotardo’s “The Moving Creatures” last year, Silveira closed distribution — from UDI — plus Fonds Sud and Arte coin.

“Co-productions are crucial for certain projects, and the Paris or Berlin events are appropriate places to find partners,” says helmer-producer Lucia Puenzo (“The Fish Child”). Last year, Puenzo was in Paris as producer/co-writer of Pablo Fendrik suspenser “Smoke Men.”

Hosting a Taiwan-French co-production workshop this year, Paris Project also underscores production trends.

Latin American submissions rose this year to 40 from Brazil and 35 from Argentina; Vietnam, Canada, Colombia, Sweden and Chile are first-time applications.

“More and more projects structure three- or four-country co-productions,” Bracq says. “There’s also boom in genre projects, especially from countries with a recent past of social-issue films,” such as Latin America.

Two examples are Argentine Israel Adrian Caetano’s Project entry “Evil Woman,” which he calls an extremely melodramatic and bloody erotic thriller. A realist take on genre, “To Kill a Man,” from Chile’s Alejandro Fernandez Almendras (“Huacho”), relates an increasingly complicated act of vengeance.

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