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Paris Project offers in to French biz

Forum is a one-stop entry point to local industry

PARIS — As Europe’s biggest and most cosmopolitan film market and its most prolific film co-producer, France makes a natural meeting point for producers looking for partnerships and financing.

July’s Paris Project co-prod forum is quickly emerging as a one-stop entry point into the French film industry, presenting several standout submissions during the seventh edition. Brazil’s “Hard Labor,” Argentina’s “Nahuel, the Human Submarine” and Japan’s “And Protect, Protected” drew interest from attendees.

Running July 6-9 at the MK2 Cinematheque and surrounding tower blocks of France’s National Library, the forum features a tightly edited selection of just 14 projects from 250 submissions.

This year’s biggest-budgeted project, “Marina,” from Stijn Coninx, costs E6 million ($8.4 million). Some weighed in at under $1 million.

Some French producers present this year — Thierry Lenouvel, Laurent Lavole, Guillaume de Seille  — specialize in far-flung films. De Seille has just produced “Dooman River” on the China-North Korea border, and will make immigration drama “Queleh” in Somalia next spring.

“What we’d like is to create a special meeting place for everybody worldwide with French professionals,” says the forum’s director Lucas Rosant.

That seems to be working: “Marina” producer Peter Bouckaert says he’d held meetings with execs from Wild Bunch, Films Distribution, Memento and MK2.

Some projects have already done the festival rounds, says Frederic Corvez, at U Media. But it’s a well-attended event and allows him to track interesting projects.

Directed by Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra, “Labor” boasted one of the most original concepts: a social issue-cum-horror film about the money pressures on a middle-class Sao Paulo couple.

Set up at Barcelona’s Diagonal TV, Fernando Diaz’s “Nahuel” is a surreal comedy, shot through with Argentine color, about a breath-holding champion.

The forum’s star, however, was Japan’s Naomi Kawase (“The Mourning Forest”) and her “Protected,” a docu feature championing natural childbirth.

Hallmark Kawase if a teaser is anything to go by — nature-loving, gorgeously shot — “Protected” looks a shoo-in for co-production with France.

Alzheimer-patient cop drama “Arrested Memories,” from South Korea’s Sabu, also drew good reactions, as did  “Mosaic,” a father-son drama and reflection on Chinese youth, from Wang Xiaoshuai (“Beijing Bicycle”).

Paris Projects featured a work-in-progress strand where tyro Anocha Suwichakompong’s “Mundane History,” a politically tinged family mystery drama, drew applause. A French-Korean co-production workshop highlighted the attractions and challenges of co-production between South Korea’s largely market-driven industry and France’s often arty or low-budget productions.

A new co-prod treaty and some key Korean directors’ popularity in France has energized interest in film links, Lavole says.

The workshop’s projects docu-toon “Approved for Adoption,” sold by Wide Management, looks close to early pre-sales. “The Housemaid,” from Gena Kim (“Never Forever”) sparked interest; and Daniel H. Byun “The Flowers of Evil, ” from KM Culture, looked a natural fit for co-production.

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