Unifrance 65: French Film Agency Unveils

With pioneering initiatives such as MyFrenchFilmFestival and the iPhone app Le Cinema Francais, film promo agency UniFrance has unleashed a digital strategy to enlarge audiences and expand revenue streams for French cinema.

“We offer a real alternative to Hollywood cinema, but we have to get in touch with young audiences,” says UniFrance managing director Isabelle Giordano. “It’s a big problem (because ) in many countries young people are simply not interested in French cinema.” She considers theatrical a particularly tough market, given Hollywood’s global presence, but believes digital distribution offers alternative routes.

MyFrenchFilmFestival launched in 2011 and is a one-month worldwide online fest for first and second films. It showcases 10 shorts and 10 features in 13 languages and includes a dedicated website and partnerships with 20 platforms worldwide. VOD is a major component since UniFrance wants the initiative to be economically enticing for sales agents.

In established markets such as Western Europe and North America, viewers must pay to watch the films at a rate of €1.90 ($2.60) per feature and $1.25 per short. The fest generates $14,000 to $20,000 per film. Total paid views were only 46,000 in 2014, but UniFrance is optimistic given a 21% growth rate.

“UniFrance is a bit like an R&D lab,” adds deputy director Xavier Lardoux. “We think that we have the responsibility to create the markets of tomorrow.”

In tandem with these initiatives, UniFrance has commissioned a worldwide VOD study profiling recent achievements, commercial potential and alternative strategies, including case studies in France and abroad. In emerging markets, such as China, Russia, Latin America and Turkey, UniFrance has inked deals with private partners that pay to offer films to viewers for free. In 2014, the fourth edition of MyFrenchFilmFestival had 4 million viewers, with over 3.5 million in
China alone.

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