Partnership with Youku, Terra drives spike

MADRID — The second My French Film Festival, promo org Unifrance’s pioneering online film showcase that kicked off Jan. 12, has scored 400,000 downloads in its first 10 days — 10 times the figure for the whole of last year’s edition.

Driving the hike is the addition of new VOD platform partners, especially China’s Youku (which notched up 200,000 hits — half the total) and Latin America’s Terra, which offer movies free-of-charge, said Unifrance’s festivals manager Jean-Remi Ducourtioux.

“For many Chinese people, it’s the first time they’ve seen a French film,” Ducourtioux said.

Mexico and Brazil are other leaders in take-up, he added.

Unifrance’s MyFrenchFilmFestival.com and some partners, including global VOD service Mubi, Spain’s Filmin and U.S. indie site SnagFilms, a Comcast-carried IPTV feed, sold films to users. Filmin offers pics for €1.95 ($2.50).

Running until Feb. 1, fest’s 10-pic competition highlights first or second films that were released since January 2010 in France from up-and-coming filmmakers including Rebecca Ziotowski (“Dear Prudence”), Valerie Donzelli (“Queen of Hearts”) and Katell Quillevere (“Love Like Poison”).

Other players are “8 Times Up,” from Xabi Molia; “Back to Square One” by Thomas Ngijol, Fabrice Eboué and Lionel Steketee; “Living on Love Alone,” directed by Isabelle Czajka; “Into Our Own Hands,” from Mariana Otero; “18 Years Old and Rising,” directed by Frederic Louf; “Memory Lane,” directed by Mikhael Hers and “Pauline and Francois,” from Renaud Fely

Unifrance’s pay partners use a split-revenue model. But Ducourtioux said, “The festival’s goal is not commercial gain for us, but greater visibility for French cinema and to find economic models for rights owners in the longterm.”

Mission accomplished: In China, where the multiplex explosion has not benefitted European arthouse cinema, film ratings have been high, said Unifrance director Regine Hatchondo.

Elsa Keslassy in Paris contributed to this report.

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