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Unifrance expands online fest

Export org teams up with 20 VOD platforms

PARIS

Faced with a shrinking international theatrical market for foreign-language films, Unifrance, the Gallic film promotion org, is upping the ante with its online fest, MyFrenchFilmFestival.

For the third edition, Unifrance has teamed up with 20 VOD platforms — more than twice as many as last year — and has ramped up it presence in the U.S. with three new online partners: Vudu, satcaster Eurocinema and iTunes, which will distribute the films in North America and 26 other territories.

“The U.S. is the No. 1 overseas market for French films, and we felt that in the last two editions we hadn’t fully reached our potential — that’s why we’ve decided to join forces with more mainstream platforms that can reach the younger demo that we’re interested in,” said Unifrance’s managing topper Regine Hatchondo.

Also on board are the U.K.’s Curzon on Demand, Germany’s Goodmovies, Spain’s Filmin, China’s Youku Tudou, among many others.

Unifrance has expanded the selection beyond first and second pics to reflect the breadth of contempo French cinema, and showcase titles that have had a limited international exposure, according to Hatchondo, who has been working hand-in-hand with the org’s general secretary Xavier Lardoux.

Romain Levy’s feel-good dramedy “Radiostars,” Djinn Carrenard’s “Donoma,” winner of the Louis Delluc prize, and Cyril Mennegun’s “Louise Wimmer,” a Venice Critics’ Week player, are among the 10 features set to compete.

The out-of-competition slate includes Georges Lautner’s cult French crime comedy “Crooks in Clover,” and Canadian drama “Romeo Eleven.” All films will be subtitled in 13 languages.

Competition films will vie for a jury nod, to be voted on by a jury lead by “The Artist” helmer Michel Hazanavicius. Fest will also award a social network nod, critics’ prize and audience award.

French sales agents have submitted 60 films to Unifrance, more than double last year’s 27.

Although films will be available to view for free in some countries — notably China, Poland, Russia and Turkey — Gallic sales agents will receive a one-time fee, ranging from €800 to €1500 ($1,074 to $1,964) per film and per territory where the title will be free.

For paying viewers, pics will cost on average $1.30 while a 12-title package will cost $15.70.

In 2011, sales companies earned an estimated $10,474 to $13,093 per film from MyFrenchFilmFestival.

Fest runs Jan. 17 to Feb. 17.

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