The Cannes Film Market will give its first-ever prize today: the Cinando Best Seller Award, drawing attention to the sometimes missing link in the international film business.
The structure might feel like Cannes Got Talent. It’s meant to. As the market winds down, this inaugural initiative, organized in collaboration with Variety, is fun, if nerve-wracking, for contestants.
On May 15, 16 young sales agent were given details of a real project, “Codename Madeleine,” inspired by real-life events, from an original idea by Pan Nalin, its director. Today, at 6 p.m., they will each have five minutes to pitch the project before a seasoned jury: Norio Hatano from Japan’s Longride; Ira von Gienanth from Germany’s Prokino; Sony Pictures Classics’ Dylan Leiner; and Raphael Berdugo, from France’s Cite Films. The jury will announce three finalists, then a winner at Plage des Palmes Festivals & Sales Agents Mixer, a Film Market networking event, on May 18.
Sales agents are drawn from both veteran companies such as Shoreline Entertainment, Spain’s Latido Films and Lionsgate U.K., and new shingles eager to up their profiles: the U.K.’s Reason8 Films, France’s Loco Films and Italy’s True Colours.
“Codename Madeleine,” as a pitch, has challenging elements: a WWII setting, France and London locations, probably some action, and the story of an extraordinary and very singular figure. “There’s enough range in the project for the contestants to create quite personal pitches,” said Jerome Paillard, Cannes Film Market exec director.
“The range of roles, importance, and on-the-ground work of sales agents is not always known, even to producers,” he added, saying the Cannes Film Market wanted to showcase best-practice pitching. A filmed interview with the jury will also be made, as the Cannes Film Market steps up its role as a training facility.