Distrib screens seven films in 40 cities

PARIS — Gallic promotion org Unifrance is partnering with Emerging Pictures to screen seven French films across 40 U.S. cities the same day they play at Rendez-Vous in New York, which kicks off Wednesday.

Selected from 23 pics at the event, the seven include two that have been acquired by U.S. distribs: Delphine and Muriel Coulin’s debut “17 Girls,” acquired by Strand Releasing, and Daniel Auteuil’s “The Well-Digger’s Daughter,” picked up by Kino Lorber.

Among the other five, which don’t have U.S. distrib, are Alain Cavalier’s Cannes competition player “Pater” and Laurent Achard’s “Derniere seance” (Last Screening), which unspooled at the Locarno and Rotterdam fests.

“Venues equipped with digital projection are key because films can be shown on Blu-ray disks on HD cams, which make them much less expensive and cumbersome than 35 mm,” explained Richard Lorber, founder and prexy of arthouse distrib Kino Lorber.

Unifrance managing director Regine Hatchondo concurred. “Exhibition technologies are important factors now in expanding the potential for different kinds of specialty films and bringing them to a wider audience,” she said, adding that 25% of revenues from Emerging Pictures’ ticket sales will go to the films’ right-holders.

Fest, held in co-operation with the Film Society of Lincoln Center, bows on a high note with Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache’s box office phenom “Intouchables,” which The Weinstein Co. acquired before it opened in France, following its screening in San Sebastian. The distrib will release it late May.

Nakache and Toledano, along with one of the two lead actors, Francois Cluzet, will attend the Unifrance U.S. premiere. Repped by Gaumont, “Intouchables” is Gaul’s third biggest B.O. earner over all and Germany’s biggest French hit.

The Rendez-Vous will also play Olivier Marchal’s “A Gang Story,” another Weinstein Co. domestic release; helmer Benoit Jacquot’s Berlin opener “Farewell My Queen,” starring Diane Kruger and Lea Seydoux, plus Audrey Tautou starrer “Delicacy,” both acquired by Cohen Media Group; and Robert Guediguian’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” repped by Films Distribution.

The Rendez-Vous wraps March 11.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more