×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Wild Bunch, Memento Lead France’s Locarno Charge

France puts its weight behind Swiss fest

LOCARNO — Who said the French took the whole of August off?

Led by sales cos Wild Bunch and Memento Films Intl., broadcast net Arte France and promo org Unifrance, a huge cavalcade of French companies and institutions is beginning to descend on Switzerland’s Locarno Fest, which kicked off Wednesday.

Three Wild Bunch-sold movies play in major slots.

The Swiss lakeside resort confab closes Aug. 17, as already announced, with Wild Bunch-sold “On the Way To School,” from France’s Pascal Plisson, which screens in Locarno’s spectacular open air Piazza Grande.

Wild Bunch has also acquired international sales rights to two titles that world premiere in International Competition: “When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism,” from Romania’s Corneliu Porumboiu (“Police, Adjective”) ; and Guillaume Brac’s relationship dramedy “Tonnerre,” the feature debut of a cineaste who broke out with his theatrically-distributed Cesar-nommed medium-feature “Un Monde sans femmes” which won a host of international awards.

A co-producer and buyer of select, high profile Euro art films, Arte has signed up four execs for Locarno, Unifrance likewise.

Popular on Variety

What really catches the eye, however, is the depth and decisiveness of France’s presence.

A total of 102 Gallic companies or institutions, no less, repped often, though not always, by chief execs, are expected to descend on Locarno this weekend.

That’s a huge number, getting on for as many as Germany (77) and Italy (53) put together.

The U.S. and indeed U.K. industries sometimes gripe that France has a lock on most selection berths for the Cannes Festival: the French favor their own.

But France’s also has if not a lock, at least a dominant position, on most major titles in Locarno as well. At Spain’s San Sebastian last year, four Wild Bunch titles — Francois Ozon’s Golden Seashell winner, “In the House,” Ziad Doueiri’s “The Attack,” Bahman Ghobadi’s “Rhino Season,” and Sergio Castellito’s “Twice Born” –played its main competition.

A breakdown of Locarno’s France/Germany attendees quickly suggests why. Germany actually has more distributors, and many small arthouse players, at Locarno than France:  24 Teuton buyers plays 18 from France.

But France wins out clearly in producers (40 vs Germany’s 17). Where it really pulls ahead, however, is in sales agents. Eighteen are attending from France, six from Germany. Of sales companies, only Germany’s The Match Factory can match Wild Bunch presence in any way with Sam Garbarski’s “Vijay and I” playing the Piazza Grande and German David Wnendt’s “Feuchtgebiete” (Wetlands) in International Competition.

The massed French presence isn’t a coincidence.

Despite challenges, France still dominates the arthouse business, not just its production but also its world sales.

A festival where a paying public gets to see its films, Locarno also offers strategic advantages to sales agents.

Paris-based UDI has Daniel and Diego Vega’s “El mudo” in international competition at Locarno.  Its screening will spark press coverage and allow potential distributors to gauge audience reaction, UDI president Frederic Corvez said at Locarno.

Both are immensely useful were the film to segue to Toronto where, otherwise, it might be lost in Toronto’s crush of titles, he added.

“Paris is the heart of the European industry. The type of cinema Locarno shows is still viable in Paris, as in New York,” said Nadia Dresti, Locarno Festival head of international.

“France has Arte, that co-produces and shows this kind of films. Switzerland is also a French-speaking country so we’re close to French culture, as Italian and German culture,” she added.

France knows no borders when co-producing or selling films. Memento Films Intl. reps two films at Locarno, both from the U.S.: Jeremy Saulnier’s Piazza Grande player “Blue Ruin,” which won the Fipresci prize at Cannes for best film in Directors’ Fortnight or Critics’ Week, and Destin Cretton’s South by South West grand jury prize and audience winner, “Short Term 12,” which received rave reviews:  Variety called it “stunning.”

More Film

  • Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and

    Film News Roundup: Leonardo DiCaprio Presenting Robert De Niro SAG Life Achievement Award

    In today’s film news roundup, Leonardo DiCaprio will present Robert De Niro with his SAG Life Achievement Award, the Oliver Sacks documentary finds a home and UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television gets a new dean. AWARD PRESENTATION Leonardo DiCaprio has been selected to present Robert De Niro the SAG Life Achievement Award  at [...]

  • KARNAWAL

    ‘Karnawal,’ ‘Restless,’ ‘Summer White,’ ‘Firsts’ Win Big at Ventana Sur

    BUENOS AIRES  — With Ventana Sur now firing on multiple cylinders, featuring pix-in post or project competitions for not only art films but also genre pics and animation – two sectors embraced by young creators in Latin America – “Karnawal,” “Restless,” “Summer White” and  “Firsts” proved big winners among Ventana Sur’s arthouse and animation competitions, [...]

  • (center) George MacKay as Schofield in

    From "1917" to "Jojo Rabbit," Composers of Some of the Year's Top Scores Talk Shop

    “1917,” Thomas Newman The 20-year collaboration of director Sam Mendes and composer Thomas Newman has encompassed midlife crisis (“American Beauty”), crime in the Depression (“Road to Perdition”), the Gulf War (“Jarhead”), marriage in the 1950s (“Revolutionary Road”) and two James Bond adventures (“Skyfall,” “Spectre”). Now they’ve tackled World War I, with “1917,” but Mendes’ much-talked-about [...]

  • Billy Magnussen Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Spinoff With Billy Magnussen's Character in the Works for Disney Plus

    Disney is developing a spinoff of its live-action “Aladdin” with Billy Magnussen reprising his Prince Anders character. The unnamed project is in early development for the studio’s recently launched Disney Plus streaming service. Disney has hired Jordan Dunn and Michael Kvamme to write a script centered on the haughty Prince Anders, one of Princess Jasmine’s [...]

  • ROAD TRIP – In Disney and

    Disney Boasts a Bevy of Hopefuls for Oscar's Original Song Race

    When the Academy announces its shortlist for song nominations on Dec. 16, you can be certain that at least one Disney song will be on it and probably more. Disney songs have been nominated 33 times in the past 30 years, winning 12 of the gold statuettes. This year, the studio has at least four [...]

  • Innovative Scores Elevated the Year's Documentaries

    Innovative Scores Elevated the Year's Documentaries

    It’s next to impossible for a documentary score to be Oscar-nominated alongside the dozens of fictional narratives entered each year. But it did happen, just once: In 1975, composer Gerald Fried was nominated for his music for “Birds Do It, Bees Do It,” a documentary on the mating habits of animals. Fried, now 91, perhaps [...]

  • Ron Leibman, Jessica Walter'Mary Stuart' Play

    Ron Leibman, Tony-Winning Actor Known for 'Angels in America' and 'Friends,' Dies at 82

    Ron Leibman, an Emmy-winning actor who garnered a Tony for his work in Broadway’s “Angels in America” and played the father of Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel Green on “Friends,” died on Friday. He was 82. Robert Attermann, CEO of Abrams Artists Agency, confirmed the news to Variety. No further details were immediately available. Leibman, a native [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content