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Toronto: UniFrance Films, Telefilm Canada Pact on Distribution Partnership

UniFrance Films and Telefilm Canada have pacted on a new distribution and promotion partnership targeting the U.S. market, the two government film agencies jointly announced at a Toronto Film Festival event Tuesday evening.

The first venture will involve Telefilm’s Canada Cool (a U.S. art house-cinema tour of 12 fresh pics, launching this fall) and Young French Cinema (a program of films by emerging filmmakers offered to art houses, film societies, the Alliance Francaise network and universities). One French movie will be included in Canada Cool and a Canadian French-language pic will join the UniFrance program. The two selected films do not yet have U.S. distribution, nor have they screened in the U.S.

“We want to enhance the visibility of our respective film industries by seeking out new, non-traditional distribution venues, including repertory and art house cinemas, in order to attract audiences interested in discovering new films and artists,” said Telefilm executive director Carolle Brabant. “Ultimately, we expect that several of the movies will make their way onto other viewing platforms.”

UniFrance Films executive director Isabelle Giordano added, “I’m delighted with this new partnership, which will make it possible to better showcase our creative film talent. This initiative also provides a wonderful opportunity to spotlight the diversity of imaginative worlds and sources of inspiration that move our filmmakers, which is essential, I believe, in the context of filmmaking around the world today.”

During the Toronto Film Festival, UniFrance partnered with Telefilm and Canal Plus to host a networking lounge celebrating 40 years of French and Canadian movies playing at the festival and the selection of the second season of “The Returned” for the fest’s inaugural Primetime section, which is dedicated to TV drama.

Hosted for four days (Sept. 11 to 15) in association with Chanel, the lounge underscores UniFrance’s ambition to seek a wide range of partners — public and private — to organize events aimed at increasing the visibility of French movies and talent during major film festivals and markets, explained Giordano.

The U.S. and Canada represents the first foreign market for French film exports. French movies grossed more than 120 million Euros from over 20 million admissions in 2014 in North America. As many as 63 movies were released there last year. This year, French movies are faring well: Five French-majority productions — “Taken 3,” “Sils Maria,” “The Salt of the Earth,” “Timbuktu” and “Dior et moi” — have earned more than $1 million.

Toronto Film Festival is presenting 44 French movies, including Julie Delpy’s “Lolo” and Alice Winocour’s “Maryland” in the Gala section, as well as Eva Husson’s “Bang Gang,” Fabienne Berthaud’s “Sky,” Joachim Lafosse’s “The White Knights,” and Diasteme’s “Un Francais” screening in the newly-launched Platform section.

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