French Film Fest focuses on sales

Latin, Gallic sales agents meet, 'Herodes' screening delayed

ACAPULCO — The focus was on business at the 4th French Film Festival here as Unifrance continued its aggressive policy of growing Latin American sales.

The event consists of a public festival of French and Mexican films as well as a trade fair bringing together Latin American distributors and Gallic sales agents.

This year 75 buyers came from across Latin America, compared with 57 in 1998. Of the 1999 total, 45 came from outside Mexico against 34 in 1998.

The number of television reps also more than doubled (23) as Latin American pay TV stations look beyond Hollywood libraries for recent pics.

Worth the cost

“The reality is that here sales companies can meet even small distributors who would not have the means to come to international fairs like this if we did not invite them,” said Patrick Lamassoure, Unifrance marketing manager.

The festival cost 10% of Unifrance’s $10 million annual budget but appears to be yielding dividends.

Latin America now accounts for 4% of the annual $300 million French overseas box office and is rising.

That success means that Unifrance now believes it already has all potential Latin buyers attending Acapulco this year.

Controversial pic

But the undoubted talk of the festival was one of the four Mexican films, the fierce satire “La ley de Herodes,” which survived an apparent attempt by the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, known here as the PRI, to censor it.

The premiere of the pic, which ridicules political corruption and violence, was suddenly canceled due to a “technical problem” only to be reinstated following a behind-the-scenes row.

The movie, which is struggling to find a distributor, was eventually shown to a packed cinema, in a blaze of publicity that it otherwise never would have had.