Elevated Genre Projects Spark Buzz Les

"Gashes Upon Walls" and "Oktoberflesh" among Les Arcs' standout projects

PARIS– Underscoring the consistent appeal of tightly-budgeted elevated genre projects in Europe, Regine Abadia’s psychological suspenser “Gashes Upon Walls” and Rob Drummond-penned zombie pic “Oktoberflesh” were some of the most buzzed-about titles at the Co-production Village hosted at Les Arcs film fest, which wrapped on Dec. 21 in the French Alps.

A subversive English-language project, “Oktoberflesh” turns on the journey of an international group of fun-seeking folks who travel to Munich’s famous beer festival and end up facing a zombie apocalypse. The 3 million Euros pic is produced by Pamela Hansson at U.K.’s Penny Dreadful Films and Matthias Nerlich and Christoph Ito Herrmann at Germany’s Little Kong Films. Creative Scotland financed the development and the producers are now awaiting coin from Berlin Brandenburg for final packaging financing. Nerlich has just been selected to participate in the EAVE European Workshop in Luxembourg with “Oktoberflesh.”

While a director and cast have yet to be attached, the project is powered by Drummond, a critically-hailed British playwright whose credits include “Bullet Catch” and “Quiz Show” which have been staged at the National Theater in London of off-Broadway.

“We felt the zombie sub-genre was so saturated that in order for a zombie film to have any impact in this market, and for us to be inspired to produce it, it had to be truly original, innovative and distinctive to justify any further examination,” Hansson told Variety. “Rob was on my radar as a rising star talent with exciting cinematic potential.”

Added Hansson, “‘Let The Right One In’ (Tomas Alfredson’s 2008 romantic horror film)  has helped change the perception of genre in Europe. It proved that genre can be character-driven, innovative and have a high impact on the international market for a lower budget.”

At Les Arcs, Hansson and Nerlich met with Gaumont, Indie Sales, SND, Kinology and Films Boutique, which expressed interest in the project. Hansson said L.A.-based genre specialist XYZ – with whom she’s collaborating on another genre title, “Beasts” — will have a first look on “Ocktoberflesh” once the script is completed.

Meanwhile, the 2.4 million Euros “Walls,” produced by Caroline Piras at well-established French outfit Metaluna, turns on a young painter who moves to a Paris suburb to work from an eerie basement where the walls conceal secrets linked the tortures perpetrated during Algerian War of Independence. “Walls” is expected to boast a singular visual style and an uncanny atmosphere thanks to a creative team including cinematographer Benoit Debie (“Spring Breakers,” “Enter The Void”), and helmer Jan Kounen (“Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky”) who’s been tapped artistic advisor.

At Les Arcs, Scandinavia’s film industry confirmed its booming status with three Icelandic projects, Runar Runarsson’s “Sparrows,” Grimur Hakonarson’s “The Rams” and Gudmundur Arnar Gudmundsson’s “Heartstone,” among the most popular titles.

“Heartstone”is a 1.5 million Euros coming-of-age drama centering around a friendship between two boys, Christian and Thor, living in a small Icelandic fishing village. Their bond is tested when Christian discovers he has feelings for Thor. Anton Mani Svansson is producing via Join Motion Pictures. Sena has Iceland distribution rights.

Vanja Kaludjercic, who heads’ up the projects’ selection, also mentioned “Equator” from “Bullhead” producer Bart von Langendonck and Clement Cogitore’s “The Wakhan Front” as well-received titles at Les Arcs.

The fifth edition of Les Arcs’ Industry sidebar was a success: over 600 professionals turned up to the Coproduction Village and DIRE days, where French distributors presented their upcoming releases.

“This year we broadened our frontiers by welcoming producers and distributors from the US or Canada – for instance Charles Tremblay at Metropole, Thomas Saignes at Tomato Pictures and Anna Kokourina at Fox Intl. Productions — in order to give participants an opportunity to learn about different financing sources available outside Europe,” said fest co-founder Pierre-Emmanuel Fleurantin.  “Going forward, we’ll be welcoming even more non-European guests.”

As expected, French sales agents were out in force with such returning guests as Urban Distribution/Factory’s Frederic Corvez, Gaumont’s Yohann Comte, Le Pacte’s Camille Neel, Bac Films’ Gilles Sousa, Versatile’s Violaine Pichon, and first-timers, notably Nicolas Eschbach at Indie Sales.

“Les Arcs has become one of Europe’s top three co-production markets. It stands out thanks to the quality of projects and producers backing them, the variety of budgets, credentials, genres and the fact that producers attending are truly looking for partners in production, sales and distribution — which is not the case at older European markets, said Corvez, whose company, Urban Factory, is co-producing Samuel Tilman’ “The Benefit of the doubt” pitched last year at Les Arcs. “Very few producers (attending Les Arcs’ Coproduction Village) don’t have a script and even the less-advanced projects are being developed by reputable producers.”

Mixing work and leisure to allow for bonding time outside of the meeting room, Les Arcs’ professional sidebar  hosted a Variety-sponsored party held in a 2300-meter high Igloo (pictured above) and a European Ski Cup contest.

Highlights also included the first industry screening of Lars von Trier’s “Nymphomaniac” (volume 1), presented by von Trier’s producers Peter Aabaek Jensen  at Zentropa and Marianne Slot at Slot Machine.

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