PARIS – A glam slam of Audrey Tautou (“Amelie,” “The Da Vinci Code”), Francois Cluzet (“The Intouchables”) and director François Ozon (“Swimming Pool,” “8 Women”) figure among about 140 French thesps and directors who will talk up upcoming French releases abroad at the 16th UniFrance Rendez-vous.
Launched in 1946, UniFrance sets the standard for international movie promotion of a whole country’s cinema. With 150 journalists, mostly from Europe but also Quebec and Israel, the UniFrance junket is already the biggest of the tear for French films, and one, if not the, biggest act of official national movie promotion in the world.
That said, the junket alone, while featuring 1,000 interviews, is just not enough; more could be done, said UniFrance prexy Jean-Paul Salome. While journalists around the world will always have Paris, and its January Rendez-vous, from 2014 UniFrance will be activating new strategies to promote French movies abroad.
Tautou and helmer Cedric Klapisch will take journalists through “Chinese Puzzle,” the third part of a trilogy begun by 2002’s Barcelona-set “L’Auberge espanol,” which caught Tautou hot off Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s “Amelie.”
Cluzet, who broke through to international attention playing a quadriplegic in The Weinstein Company-released “The Intouchables,” will present “Turning Tide,” from d.p.-turned-director Christophe Offenstein, where Cluzet plays a fearless but flawed navigator in the Vendee Cup, a three-month-long round-the-world yacht race.
Best-known recently for Catherine Deneuve starrer “Potiche,” Ozon will talk journos through “Young & Beautiful,” a 2013 Cannes competition contender and, per Ozon, a study of the physical transformations of youth.
Ozon remains one of France’s most bankable helmers, grossing with a certain regularity $20 million plus worldwide.
Aslo set to attend are Arnaud Desplechin, auteur of a building body of French films (“Kings and Queen,” “A Christmas Tale”), which often played Cannes competition, including his second English-language film: “Jimmy P –Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian,” with
Further talent billed to attend includes Emmanuelle Bercot, who will tubthump Berlin later-lide second-chance drama “On My Way,” with Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, at the Rendez-vous for “Camille Claudel 1915,” from Bruno Dumont, who will also attend; Bertrand Tavernier, on his game with political lampoon “Quai d’Orsay” seen at Toronto;” Alexandre Coffre, director of Dany Boon-starrer “Volcano,” one of the better-received movies at least weekend’s Rendez-vous market; Valeria Bruni-Tedeshi, director of “A Castle in Italy,” another 2013 Palme d’Or contender; Anne Fontaine, with “Two Mothers,” starring and “Amelie” director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, president of online fest MyFrenchFilmFestival.com and helmer of “The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet.”
Among established stars, Albert Dupontel,Sandrine Kiberlain, Karin Viard and Beatrice Dahl will attend. Katell Quillevere – much in demand – will answer questions on “Suzanne,” Rebecca Zlotowski, another leading light of France’s new femme gen, will present “Grand Central.”
The second part of the UniFrance Rendez-vous, which kicked off Jan.10 with a four-day market, the junket coincides with both Paris’ Lumiere Awards, France’s equivalent of the Golden Globes, and, also on Friday, a UniFrance press conference where the org will reveal detailed stats and painstaking analysis of French films 2013 international box office.
Pascal Chaumeil, Louise Bourgoin, Jacques Doillon, Louis Garrel and Claude Lanzmann are also expected to attend.
The Paris Rendez-vous junket is “highly important, essential to support French film releases abroad, to get an interview with a id¡g Franch star like Juliette Biniche or Catherine Deneuve,” said Isabelle Giordano, UniFrance managing director.
Journalist also have free-of-charge access, contrasting with a growing practice where they are charged for star access.
At a time when Indie distributors P & A budgets are increasingly slim, especially for foreign-language art films, press coverage, usually now enhanced with viral components, is even more vital for smaller films’ profile. Studio and mini-majors’ attempts to court foreign markets – think Lionsgate-Summit’s “Now You See Me”- mean more movies will part-shoot in France, enrolling French actors into their cast, raising their international profile.
Both French artists’ and journalists’ attendance is up on 2013.
“Everybody in the French film industry is conscious that now we have to think worldwide. Actors are no longer afraid to speak English, or go and work in London or abroad,” Giordano said.
Despite that, with some exceptions Francois Ozon, Isabelle Huppert, Sophie Marceau – there is little tradition nor contractual prescription, for actors to travel and certainly not tour with films, engaging on the crazed whistle-stop promothons which saw Brad Pitt present “World War Z” in Russia then time-zone hop to make the Spanish premiere the same night in Madrid.
If actors do travel, it will often to be a far-away destination such as New York or Japan, but not Berlin,” said UniFrance president Jean-Paul Salome. That’s “a very big challenge” for UniFrance given the paramount importance of Europe as a market for French films: Germany sometimes proves a bigger annual market than the U.S., Salome added.
Given that, UniFrance is testing new strategies. This March or April, Fred Cavaye will go on a non-stop three-stop tour with “Mea Culpa,” accompanied by its stars Gilles Lellouche and Vincent Lindon, visiting Germany, Italy and Spain, Salome explained.
“It’s a key test. We have to find ways to have a stronger presence in foreign markets. Many young French actors and also figures in an older generation are pretty well unknown or totally unknown abroad,” he added.