February import deal has altered landscape for pic biz

Jean Prewitt, president-CEO of the Independent Film & Television Alliance, is taking a cautiously optimistic view of this year’s Cannes market and growing traction for the Chinese film business.

“It’s hard to tell this early but people are feeling that the market’s solid,” Prewitt said Thursday in an interview with Variety. “And the Chinese agreement is affecting the deals that they’re making here.”

Prewitt said that sorting out the nuances of the February deal — providing for sweetened terms on revenue-sharing of up to 25% of the Chinese gross and raising the annual number of imports from 20 to 34 — is taking up significant time for IFTA staffers. Key areas include audits and censorship requirements, with companies now having increased rights to edit films.

“We really think that this is a big win-win for China, too,” she said.

Staffers for IFTA, which has 150 members in 23 countries, are also finding that members need assistance in such areas as new media, collections, umbrella agreements, piracy and standard sales agreements. “Our job is to unravel these areas for members,” Prewitt said.

IFTA’s also prepping a beachside get-together in Cannes on Tuesday evening, hosted by chairman Paul Hertzberg of CineTel.

“I love coming to Cannes because our members do what they do best,” Prewitt said. “In Los Angeles, I hear about their problems, but out here I get to see just how skilled they are.”

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