Adding meat to the market

Films Distribution backs new Venice bazaar with 5 titles

Paris-based Films Distribution, one of Europe’s most powerful arthouse and crossover sales agents, is throwing its weight behind the Venice Film Market, screening five titles in different fest sections — the biggest sales agent line-up on the Lido.

Among recent pick-ups, FD has acquired worldwide rights to out-of-competish title “The Tightrope,” a personal portrait of theater director Peter Brook, plus Stefano Mordini’s teen romancer “Steel,” which plays Venice Days.

Produced and directed by Brook’s son Simon Brook, “Tightrope” offers a behind-the-scenes take on the modern stage great’s work and artistic philosophy.

Produced by Palomar Prods., RAI Cinema and BNL Gruppo BNP Paribas, “Steel” is Mordini’s follow-up to 2005 Berlin competition player, “Smalltown, Italy.”

FD partner Nicolas Brigaud-Robert called “Steel,” which turns on first love in a working-class factory environment in Italy, “Ken Loach meets Celine Sciamma.”

FD also has Solveig Anspach’s loopy France-set fish-out-of-water comedy “Queen of Montreuil”; “Inheritance,” a portrait of a middle-class Palestinian family from Palestinian-Israeli actress-turned-director Hiam Abbas; and love triangle story “Tango libre,” from Belgium’s Frederic Fonteyne, a contemporary of Joachim Lafosse. All play today at Venice.

“Since Mifed’s demise, there’s space for a serious market based in Europe. We’d love to see a revival of Venice,” Brigaud-Robert said. “It’s a big jump between Cannes and the AFM.”

As European buyers show few signs of belt-loosening, a local market eliminates costly trips to the Toronto fest, which doesn’t have an official market, or Busan in South Korea, he added.

Furthermore, as hundred of films jostle for foreign distributors’ attention, they have ever-shorter sales lives. Sales agents need new, cost-effective market opportunities to position an often large turnover of titles, allowing their movies some chance of standing out from the crowd.

As international markets evolve, so have the films that sales agents favor.

“Core film-loving audiences aren’t growing,” Brigaud-Robert said. “We are director-driven but it isn’t enough for films to just win awards in festivals.”

Many FD films do more. Released by Music Box, “Monsieur Lazhar” has grossed $5.8 million in the U.S.

Brigaud-Robert sold out FD’s slate in Asia after Cannes. Among key unannounced deals, three pics closed Japan: Alcine Terran took “Citadel” while Aya Pro nabbed “War Witch” and “Captive.”

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