Unifrance plans webfest

Online festival to feature 50 French films

PARIS — In a pioneering digital move, French export board Unifrance is planning a Gallic pic webfest.

Pencilled in for December, the online festival of French films will feature some 50 Gallic movies, streamed to audiences around the world for about Euros2 ($3) per pic.

French-langage movieswill be subtitled in English and Spanish.

Europe’s biggest state export org, wielding an annual $12.2 million budget, Unifrance already organizes multiple traditional festivals of French films in cities from New York to Tokyo to Siberia’s Novosibirsk , flying out directors, producers and thesps.

The webfest responds to new exhibition and consumer challenges, however, said Unifrance prexy Antoine de Clermont-Tonnerre.

“We have to adapt to new times. Urban-center single screens which traditionally played French films are closing in markets such as Italy and Spain,” said Clermont-Tonnerre.

In the U.S., many people are interested in seeing films from Europa and Asia, Clermont-Tonnerre added, citing the straight-to-VOD distribution of U.S. indie IFC Films.

Emerging markets – India, for example – often have few cinema theaters putting on French films, Clermont-Tonnerre added.

The fest will include French films which have played to critical or audience acclaim in France but haven’t received the distribution which they merit abroad, said Unifrance exec director Regine Hatchondo.

The webfest could be bulwarked by shorts and masterclasses by French talent, she added.

Screening to young VOD-savvy Internet auds, online delivery of French films also addresses a current concern of Unifrance management: the current ageing of core audiences for French films abroad.

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