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Lisbon attracts French sales execs

Wild Bunch, MK2, Memento among visitors

LISBON — Wild Bunch, MK2 and Memento Films International are among top Gallic mini-majors traveling to the 5th edition of the Lisbon Screenings — integrated within the 7th edition of IndieLisboa, the Portuguese capital’s biggest film fest.

Paris-based Wide Management — one of Europe’s most active specialty film sales agents — will also be attending, as will reps from the Miami, Rotterdam, Locarno, Cork, Gijon, Berlin and Turin film festivals.

Launched as a pilot project in 2006, the Lisbon Screenings have become the premier showcase for unveiling new Portuguese films to international sales agents and festivals — with more than 50 guests attending this year.

The three-day screenings — whose full lineup is kept confidential and extends beyond the fest’s programming — include world premieres of Portuguese features such as IndieLisboa’s opening film — WWII documentary “Fantasia Lusitana” by Joao Canijo — and “Civil War” by Pedro Caldas.

“We’ve consolidated strong relationships with festivals and sales agents over recent years,” explained fest co-director, Nuno Sena, “building considerable visibility for Portuguese films.”

Sena cites key partners as being Rotterdam, Vienna, Locarno and Clermont Ferrand film fests.

Riding the recession, the host event, IndieLisboa has secured an additional 50% in funding this year, rising to E1.16 million ($1.57 million) and has doubled its prize money — to $91,000 — which Sena believes will further consolidate the event’s position in the international film circuit.

Dedicated to revealing new talent, IndieLisboa’s main international section is restricted to first and second films, such as Benjamin Heisenberg’s misfit thriller “The Robber,” Javier Rebollo’s existential drama “Woman Without Piano” and Martijn Maria Smits’ gritty industrial tale “It’s Already Summer.”

This year’s visitors include directors Heddy Honigmann and Ben Rivers — both with retrospectives, French actress/director/producer Eva Truffaut, American film critic Robert Koehler and Berlin Forum programmer Birgit Kohler.

Lisbon Screenings runs April 23-25 and IndieLisboa between April 22-May 2.

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