UniFrance Unveils Lineup Of Nicolas Refn-Presided
Copyright Elsa Keslassy

UniFrance has upped the ante for the sixth edition of its online festival MyFrenchFilmFestival, expanding the fest’s global reach with more partners and movies.

The prestigious launch was hosted at the Eiffel Tower before a crowd of filmmakers, actors, French industryites and international journos.

In attendance was Danish helmer Nicolas Winding Refn (“Drive,” “Only God Forgives”), who is presiding the filmmakers jury, along with his fellow members Marjane Satrapi (“Persepolis”), Felix Van Groeningen (“The Broken Circle Breakdown”), David Robert Mitchell (“It Follows”) and Valérie Donzelli (“Marguerite and Julien”).

“My FrenchFilmFestival gives young people the opportunity to see the films and understand film is a futuristic language,” said Refn on stage.

Aiming to editorialize the film offer and help viewers navigate through the array of movies, UniFrance broke it down by theme: French Kiss, In your Face, Paris Comedies and Crime Scene.

The competition roster is made up of Jérôme Bonnell’s love-triangle drama “All About Them,” Catherine Corsini’s lesbian romance “Summertime,” Olivier Jahan’s “Sand Castle” and Martin Talbot’s “Henri Henri” (label French Kiss), Emmanuel Mouret’s whimsical romantic comedy “Caprice,” Clovis Cornillac’s “Blind Date,” a romantic comedy about a disenchanted photographer and a mysterious pianist (label comedy Paris Comedy), Raphaël Jacoulot’s thriller “Heatwave” and Frédéric Tellier’s “SK1,” a chronicle of the eight-year investigation to track down French serial killer and rapist Guy Georges (label Crime Scene) and Fabrice Du Welz’s “Alleluia,” as well as Diastème’s “French Blood” (label In Your Face).

The feature films will compete for three awards: The Chopard filmmaker prize, the international press award and the Lacoste audience kudo.

Films that were chosen by UniFrance to compete are pics that have for the most part been well-received by critics and in some case have traveled to a flurry of festivals, but have not yet reached their international sales potential.

“All About Them” played at Chicago and Karlovy Vary. Meanwhile, “La Belle Season” with Cecile de France and Izia Higelin, screened at Toronto and Locarno. It was acquired by Strand Releasing for U.S. distribution. Financed by Wallonie Bruxelle Image, “Alleluia” opened at Cannnes’ Directors’ Fortnight and traveled to Toronto, Busan and Chicago.

The festival, which runs Jan.18-Feb.18, is also opening up to documentaries with Julie Gayet and Mathieu Busson’s “Cineastes” and “French Cinema Mon Amour,” a docu produced by UniFrance and Beali Production.

Since France is also applauded for its talent in animation, MyFrenchFilmFestival will showcase three toon shorts: Sacha Feiner’s “Derniere porte au sud,” Marina Moshkova’s “M Seeking W” and Celine Devaux’s “Le Repas dominical.”

On stage at the Eiffel Tower, Isabelle Giordano, UniFrance’s managing director, said the org had “teamed up with a record number of VOD platforms worldwide to allow everyone to see French films, who might not have had the opportunity otherwise.”

Indeed, for this new edition, the org enlisted a record 37 platforms, including iTunes in 90 territories, Google Play in 15 countries, Mubi in the U.K., Amazon in Germany and Japan, Universcine in France and Belgium, Telefonica in Spain and Shuun in Japan.

The festival was created sixth years ago to examine the evolution of VOD consumption territory per territory and the commercial potential of this emerging market for French movies. Secondly, the festival is meant to give a second life to French movies that may have been overlooked by foreign distributors, and lastly, the event also gives UniFrance the opportunity to reach worldwide audiences, notably in places where arthouse theaters are under-represented or lacking.

Films will be available for free in Latin America, Poland, Russia, Africa and Romania. Elsewhere, the rental of one feature film will be 1.99 Euros, while the festival pack will be 5.99 Euros. Movies will all be available in 10 languages.

The festival is also partnering up for the first time with Opera to be available on connected TV’s from about 30 manufacturers.

Last year’s MyFrenchFilmFestival’s winners were Thomas Lilti, who nabbed the Filmaker’s award for “Hippocrate” and Melanie Laurent, who won the foreign press nod for “Breathe.”

“If French cinema is a highly thriving cultural industry, it must nonetheless come up with new and inventive forms of distribution,” noted said Laurent Fabius, minister of foreign affairs and international development, about this initiative. “This is what uniFrance wished to achieve by creating MyFrenchFilmFestival which proposes, for the sixth year, on over forty platforms worldwide, a panorama of features and shorts which illustrates the richness of young French film creation,” added the minister.

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