Lumiere Fest: Classic Film Market Confirms Heritage Biz Global Growth

Poland, Russia, Sweden, Mexico, Argentina all bring restorations to classic film fest and its market

Collection Institut Lumière / Photo JL
Collection Institut Lumière / Photo JL Mège

Step-by-step, the classic film biz is gaining more converts outside its major strongholds of France and the U.S.

A case in point: the 3rd Lyon Lumière Fest Classic Film Market, which runs Oct.14-16. The world’s first heritage film business forum, it looks set to confirm continued build in the boutique classic film biz, not only in France’s distribution-exhibition-services sector, but also across Europe and beyond.

CFM attendance is up a robust 30% vs. 2014 from 166 to 217 delegates; exhibition booths have increased from 11 in 2013 to 14 last year, now 19 in 2010; 80 companies had a presence in 2014, 120 are represented in 2015, said Lea Welcman, CFM project manager with Gerald Duchaussoy.

New York’s Cohen Media Group, with a library of 800 titles, the U.K.’s Park Circus, a worldwide sales and distribution company with 20,000 classic films, many tapped from Hollywood studios, TCM France, and the Martin Scorsese-launched The Film Foundation, a restoration-education initiative, represent U.S. heritage presence.

With Scorsese, the recipient of this year’s Lumiere Film Award, in attendance, The Film Foundation will also, however, present four of its feature restorations, from Egypt, Senegal, India and the Philippines, while its director, Margaret Bodde, delivers a master-class.

The highest-profile trend this year, indeed is the new presence of companies from Eastern and Northern Europe, as the classic films movement – restoration and distribution – begins to go global:

*Poland’s Di Factory, a restoration/post-pro co, which worked on Pavel Pawlikowski 2015 foreign language Oscar winner “Ida,” will be tubthumping the first box in “Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema,” a Blu-ray collection of 24 digitally restored Polish classics, such as Andrej Wajda’s 1975 “Promised Land” and “Man of Iron.”

*Poland’s Kadr Film Studio, its classic film production hub will sell a library including Wajda, Andrzej Munk, Janusz Morgenstern, Kazimierz Kutz and Tadeusz Konwicki.

*Also in Lyon: Digital Film Repository (CRF) that deals in theatrical distribution, TV and video publishing, as well as digital re-mastering.

*The Swedish government has granted the Swedish Film Institute funds for a five-year digitization program of Sweden’s film heritage. Initiated in 2014, aimed at around 500 titles, the program has completed around 100 films, which SFI project manager Lova Hagerfors will talk up to distributors at Lyon.

*Russia’s biggest studio, Mosfilm , will unveil at the CFM Sergey Eisenstein’s “Alexander Nevsky” and “Ivan the Terrible,” both 2015 revivals, as part of what it terms a heavy investment in film restoration.

*Meanwhile, in a collaboration with Mexico’s Morelia Fest, its UNAM U and Cineteca Nacional Mexico, this week’s Lumiere 2015 Grand Lyon Festival will showcase five titles from Mexico’s Golden Age. The five-title- Viva Mexico! tribute includes Emilio “El Indio” Fernandez’s 1946 “Enamorada,” with Maria Felix, and Roberto Gavaldon’s film noir “The Other One,” released the same year.

*Present in Lyon, Paris-based video publisher Blaq Out 2014-15 lineup includes Fernando Solanas “The South,” seen at 2015 Cannes Classics, an HD restoration made by Latin America’s Cinecolor and funded by Argentina’s INCAA film institute as part of a recuperation of all Solanas’ titles which will be issued as a DVD set box by Blaq Out productions.

Kadr was founded in 1955; Di Factory launched in 2012, Digital Film Repository in 2010, responding, it says, to market needs. As the restoration movement gathers pace, propelled by new public and private-sector initiative, the net of titles subject to digitization is spreading ever wider.

“This is a real trend, a real political commitment towards the restoration of films in order to keep their memory alive,” Dauchovvsky said. National film institutes are moving very “fast now,” “proactively,” and are also concerned that audiences see the films they restore, he added.

In such a context, the Lumiere Grand Lyon Film Festival plays various roles. Brilliantly marketed to the city by Bertrand Tavernier and Thierry Fremaux, Lumiere Institute president and director general – many presentations are like live shows with heritage titles introduced by stars or star directors, such as Nicolas Wending Refn this year, who is talking up 1971 time travel/slavery movie “Farewell Uncle Tom,” helmed by Italy’s Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi – it provides an eye-opening demonstration of the audiences and excitement which heritage cinema can attract, particularly among younger cinemagoers.

Meanwhile, its Classic Film Market acts as a business conduit and forum for best practice discussion in a still young sector.

The same phenomenon can be seen in France, which accounts for about 70% of CFM participants including industry giants like Pathe, Gaumont and Studiocanal (via Tamasa Distribution, which sells its library) to Cine Plus Classique, part of the Canal Plus Group, all with energetic restoration programs, to state agency CNC, present with a seven-exec delegation.

This year’s CFM boasts a strong regional cinematheque attendance, and 28 distributors, video publishers or sales agents, a sign of the sector’s Gallic vitality. Also attending are a dozen or so cinema theater managers, all part of France’s arthouse sector, the most powerful in the world.

“Many new companies are exhibitors, also distributors and lots of technical companies working in digitalization and restoration,” said Welcman.

Thursday’s popular CFM Distributors’ Day features pitches of new titles by 13 companies, three foreign – Mosfilm, the SFI, Netherlands’ Eye – nine French: Tamasa, Sidonis, Lost Films, Gaumont, LCJ Editions, arthouse assns. AFCAE and ADRC, Pathe, Malavida, Artedis-Panoceanic Films and Shellac. This will be preceded by another presentation – of a new CNC subsidy line for the digitization and distribution of heritage films. Thursday morning’s panel discussions, on classic films’ chain of title, is partly dubbed “The Future of the Past.”

The Classic Film Market suggests the future of the past, in film terms, is now of gathering global concern.