As the market for European pure-play arthouse films continues to shrink, the fifth edition of Les Arcs European Film Festival’s Arc 1950 Co-production Village will turn the spotlight on projects with mainstream appeal, while also opening up financing and networking opportunities.
To this end, the fest’s professional sidebar will host a panel called the Evolution of Funding: Private Equity, Foreign Investments and Linguistic Strategy for European Films. In attendance will be Danish producer Peter Aalbaek Jensen, general director of Zentropa; Spain’s Alvaro Longoria, head of Morena Films; and American producer Anna Kokourina, production VP at Fox Intl.
“With the falloff of Southern European markets, the financing landscape for indie European films is evolving, public funds are being drastically reduced, broadcasters are reducing film acquisitions and the box office is very unpredictable,” says fest co-founder Pierre-Emmanuel Fleurantin, who produces via his Paris-based shingle Paprika Film.
“Producers are more than ever willing to look outside the box, finding equity funds in international markets and getting studios on board,” he adds. “Just like Sundance proved U.S. indie films could have an international and commercial potential, at Les Arcs we’re aiming to show the same is true of European auteur-driven films with small to mid-sized budgets up to €8 million ($10.8 million).”
The Co-production Village will present 28 projects picked by Vanja Kaludjercic and 10 works-in-progress selected by Frederic Boyer out of a total 250 submissions. Among the most internationally focused projects there:
- Clement Cogitore’s “The Wakhan Front,” a contempo war drama set in Afghanistan toplining Matthias Schoenaerts. “Rust and Bone” co-scribe, Thomas Bidegain, penned the script.
- Ian Fitzgibbon’s “I’ll Take Care of It,” an Irish dramedy about the unlikely romance between a shy hotel concierge and a banker who has lost everything.
- John Huddles’ “Appetite,” centering on a chef specializing in extreme meat dishes who clashes with his daughter, a radical vegan.
- Didier Kala’s “Ola Kala,” a drama toplining Gerard Depardieu as a man who, after learning he has Alzheimer’s, reconnects with his estranged son.
- Hans Van Nuffel’s “Equator,” a drama turning on a daughter who persuades a former child soldier to accompany her to central Africa to find out how her father died.
Many of the projects set to be pitched at Les Arcs will lens in English and have at least one star attached.
“It’s extremely difficult to finance a film without bankable stars if it’s budgeted above €2 million ($2.7 million),” says Savage Film founder and producer Bart Van Langendonck, who will present “Equator.”
“There’s increased pressure to make films that boast commercial elements, and casting is an important part of the equation, especially for distributors and sales agents,” says Van Langendonck, whose credits include Michael R. Roskam’s “Bullhead.”
Van Langendonck says “Bullhead” was profitable because the story was universal. It performed very well in Belgium and France sold to 22 territories, he adds, “but it had a limited market value due to the fact that it wasn’t in English.”
Indeed, more and more European producers are opting to make movies in English as they look to raise coin across multiple markets.
Budgeted at $3.9 million, “Equator” will be in English, Spanish and French.
“As we saw at AFM, there’s not enough good product on the market,” says Alexandra Hoesdorff at Luxembourg-based Deal Prods.
“U.S. producers continue to tap into European talent, and they’re also coming to Europe to get their films financed. Private equity funds are great options to close the financing on European projects because we’re still able to minimize risks thanks to subsidies and TV channels’ investment in Europe.”
The fest once again is staging the European Cinema Cup, a friendly ski race for all attendees interested in testing their skills on the slopes rather than in meetings. It takes place at 2 p.m. Dec. 17 on the Piste des Marmottes at Arc 1950 the Village.
This year, the former Yugoslavian countries — Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia — are guest of honor countries. A 13-film program focuses on new and classic works from those countries, including Danis Tanovic’s “No Man’s Land” and Emir Kusturica’s “When Father Was Away on Business”.
Dire Days unites European indie distribs from Dec. 18-21 to present films to exhibitors.
Arc 1950 Co-production Village, which runs Dec. 14-17, is open to festival professionals and presents a lineup of films — curated by the Les Arcs team — seeking partners.
WHAT: Les Arcs European Film Festival
WHEN: Dec. 14-21
WHERE: Les Arcs (French Alps)
(Pictured: “Equator,” a drama set in war-torn central Africa, is seeking co-production partners at the Arc 1950 Co-production Village.)