×

Paris fest hones sharp focus

Sprocket opera finds room for best of nich pics

As eclectic as the French capital, the Paris Intl. Film Festival continues to balance out a purist world cinema competition lineup and a more mainstream selection of Gallic premieres.

“Paris Cinema is not about red carpets but about great programming,” says Palestinian film vet Elia Suleiman, who sits on the fest jury, along with Italian actress Elisa Sednaoui, French thesp Tom Novembre and Gallic writer Eric Reinhardt. “Without too much presumption they’ve introduced many interesting films.”

This year, Aude Hesbert, the festival’s general delegate, and her team sifted through more than 1,000 films to come up with the final eight features in competition, which includes Zhang Lu’s “Dooman River,” which received a Special Mention from Berlin’s Generation 14plus Youth Jury, and Benjamin Heisenberg’s “The Robber,” which unspooled at Berlin.

As a sign of the times, half of the films in competition have made their way around the festival circuit but still need a French distributor. These include two feature debuts: Romanian helmer Florin Serban’s “If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle,” which won the Alfred Bauer nod and Silver Berlin Bear at Berlin, and Thai filmmaker Anocha Suwichakornpong’s “Mundane History,” a Rotterdam winner. Two Japanese titles, Hitoshi Yazaki’s “Sweet Little Lies” and Ishii Yuya’s “Sawako Decides,” are also looking for French distribution.

Popular on Variety

Being scheduled between Cannes and Locarno has made it difficult for Paris Cinema to get world premieres in the competition section. But Hesbert says the fest has nevertheless succeeded in doubling its participation over the past two years and has gained recognition from people in the industry, including France’s top distributors.

This year, the fest will showcase many Cannes titles, including Palme d’Or winner “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,” Jury Prize winner “A Screaming Man” and Grand Jury prize winner “Of Gods and Men.”

“We like working with Paris Cinema for artistic and commercial reasons,” explains Roxane Arnold, distribution topper at Pyramide, which will distribute “Uncle Boonmee” and “Screaming Man” in France, and will also have Rebecca Zlotowski’s Critics Week screener “Belle Epine” at the fest. “We like the fact that ticket sales are taken into account by the CNC (the national film org), which splits the gross between distributors and exhibitors.”

Paris Cinema is renewing its partnership with Walt Disney Studios France to host the Gallic premiere of “Toy Story 3” in S3D as part of a special “Toy Story Day,” featuring the first two installments in 3D.

“The festival has done a great job at creating an inventive marketing campaign for ‘Toy Story 3,’?” says Xavier Albert, marketing director at Walt Disney Studios France. “We think it’s a creative and cost-effective way to build up a big event around the film right before its theatrical release.”

The fest will also host some high-profile guests, including Jane Fonda, helmers M. Night Shyamalan and Koji Wakamatsu, as well as Tilda Swinton, who will attend the French premiere of “Amore,” and Isabelle Hupert, who will turn out for the French preem of “Copacabana.”

More Film

  • A still from Rebuilding Paradise by

    Ron Howard on Capturing Wildfire Devastation in 'Rebuilding Paradise' Doc

    Ron Howard’s upcoming documentary “Rebuilding Paradise” puts the spotlight on survivors from the northern California community in the aftermath of a deadly and destructive wildfire. “We weren’t just interested in the drama and the trauma, but on a human interest level,” Howard told Variety’s Matt Donnelly in conversation at Sundance Film Festival’s Cinema Cafe series. [...]

  • Zola

    'Zola,' the Stripper Tweetstorm Movie, Premieres to Warm Reception at Sundance

    “Zola,” the A24 movie based on a viral Twitter thread, premiered to laughter and applause on Friday at the Sundance Film Festival. The film is based on a mostly true story tweeted in October 2015 by Aziah Wells King (nickname: Zola, played by Taylour Paige). King recounted, in highly entertaining fashion, her journey from Detroit [...]

  • Alma Har'el with Lucas Hedges and

    DGA Marks Inclusion Milestones on the Eve of Awards Ceremony

    Two months ago, the Directors Guild of America heralded a major milestone in its long push for inclusion in the television industry. The DGA’s episodic television director inclusion report found that half of all TV episodes in the 2018-19 season were directed by women or directors of color for the first time. “Inclusion has been [...]

  • Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg Quibi

    Jeffrey Katzenberg, Meg Whitman Explain How Quibi Differs From Other Streamers

    Jeffrey Katzenberg has heard the chatter about streaming wars, but the media mogul thinks that when the dust settles, the fight to attract audiences won’t end with just a few victors. “Everybody suddenly wants to declare winners and losers and the fact is there’s only winners and winners right now,” he said during an interview [...]

  • Anaconda

    'Anaconda' Reboot in the Works at Sony With 'Divergent' Writer

    Sony Pictures is in early development of a reboot of the “Anaconda” franchise, hiring “Divergent” writer Evan Daugherty to write the project. The studio has not set up the project with a producer, director or actors. Sony released the original “Anaconda” in 1997 as a horror thriller starring Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jon Voight, Eric [...]

  • Annabella Sciorra

    Friend Tells of Annabella Sciorra's Mid-1990s Struggles at Harvey Weinstein Trial

    A longtime friend of Annabella Sciorra testified Friday in Harvey Weinstein’s criminal trial that the actor turned to cutting herself and exhibited other troubling behavior in the mid-1990s after she was allegedly raped by the disgraced film mogul. The defense questioning of model Kara Young got heated as Judge James Burke sustained repeated objections to [...]

  • Mike (WILL SMITH), Marcus (MARTIN LAWRENCE)

    Box Office: 'Bad Boys for Life' to Lead Weekend With $26 Million

    Sony’s “Bad Boys for Life” is dominating North American moviegoing with about $26 million at 2,155 sites, early estimates showed Friday. Universal’s World War I epic “1917” will finish at a distant second with about $13 million in the wake of receiving 10 Academy Award nominations and the top film award from the Producers Guild [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content