Indie Sales, the French international sales boutique behind the Oscar-nominated “My Life as a Zucchini” and Ziad Doueiri’s “The Insult,” is set to branch out with the launch of Best Friend Forever, a new Brussels-based outfit dedicated to festival-driven world cinema.
Best Friend Forever is kicking off with the acquisition of Juris Kursietis’ sophomore outing, “Oleg,” which will world premiere at Cannes’ Directors Fortnight. The movie follows Kursietis’ feature debut, “Modris,” which received San Sebastian’s special mention for the New Directors Award in 2014.
Produced by Tasse Film (“Dogs Don’t Wear Pants”) with Iota Productions (“Song of the Sea”) and In Script & Arizona Productions (“The Gentle Indifference of the World”), “Oleg” follows the story of a young Latvian butcher who immigrates to Brussels to work at a meat factory, hoping for a better life, but instead quickly falls under the yoke of Andzejs, a Polish criminal.
Best Friend Forever is being launched by Martin Gondre, who worked at Indie Sales for six years as head of marketing and festivals, and entertainment lawyer Charles Bin, who worked at leading Parisian law firm Intervista, with the backing of Indie Sales’ co-founders, Nicolas Eschbach and Eric Névé. Both companies will share an office at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival.
“After six great years at Indie Sales, it feels like a dream come true to launch my company together with my oldest friend Charles, whom I have known for more than 15 years, and even more with a strong and universal Cannes title,” said Gondre.
He said “Oleg” represented the type of movies that Best Friend Forever wants to handle – “fresh and raw talent, at the dawn of their career, with whom we can grow together.” During his tenure at Indie Sales, Gondre worked on more than 60 films, including “The Insult” and “My Life as a Zucchini,” on top of festival-driven titles such as Clément Cogitore’s “Braguino.”
Bin, who has worked on more than 50 feature films and TV series as a lawyer and developed a solid expertise in financing international productions, said ‘Best Friend Forever’ would strive to deliver a service enhanced from the traditional business models of sales agencies, and become a “one-stop-shop” allowing a given project to develop an international scope.
“We consider producers as talents, and want to offer a new range of service alongside a sales activity, from negotiating deals on the best terms, structuring co-productions, or gap financing by acting as an intermediary,” said Bin, who previously trained at the French lending institution Cofiloisirs.
Eschbach said Indie Sales, which will provide Best Friend Forever with back office support, was continuing to grow with the creation of this new banner. “This adds a new asset to Indie Sales’ synergies between sales, production and financing,” said Eschbach, adding that Gondre had been with Indie Sales since the creation of the company.
The Belgian capital offers an appealing tax rebate and a strong pool of producers with very few local sales companies, Gondre and Bin said.
“Brussels makes total sense – Europe’s most important co-production place where the key players have not developed arms for international sales. It’s the perfect place for us, not to mention that we love the city and its producers,” said the pair.
Best Friend Forever will handle 10 films a year. Aside from “Oleg,” the new banner will attend Cannes with a slate including Genevieve Dulude-de Celles’s feature debut, “A Colony,” which won a number of awards, notably the Crystal Bear at Berlin, and three prizes at the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards. The company will soon be announcing more acquisitions.