New Films With Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Omar Sy Unspool at UniFrance Rendez-Vous

Showcasing the wide scope and many nuances of French comedies, Oscar-winning director Michel Hazanavicius’s “The Lost Prince,” “Mama Weed” with Isabelle Huppert (pictured), “The Lion” with Dany Boon, and “Welcome to the Jungle” with Catherine Deneuve are having their market premieres at the 22nd edition of the UniFrance Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in Paris, which runs Jan. 16-20.

Sold by Studiocanal, “The Lost Prince” is fantasy-filled family comedy headlined by Omar Sy (“Intouchables), François Damiens (“Heartbreaker”) and Bérénice Bejo (“The Artist”).

“Mama Weed” directed by Jean-Paul Salomé, is a crime comedy starring Huppert, the Oscar-nominated actress, as a French-Arabic translator working for the anti-drug squad in Paris. Le Pacte is handling international sales.

“The Lion” is an action comedy about Romain (Philippe Katerine), a psychologist who is fascinated by his patient, Leo Milan (Boon), who claims to be a highly-trained international spy.

Helmed by Hugo Benamozig and David Caviglioli, “Welcome to the Jungle” stars Deneuve as possessive mother and renown ethnologist who sets off to rescue her beloved son, a young and naive anthropology researcher, in the Amazonian jungle.

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As previously announced, the five-day showcase of French movies in Paris kicked off on Jan. 16 with Martin Provost’s 1960s-set film “How To Be A Good Wife” starring Juliette Binoche, another high-profile film to bow at the event. Memento Films International is selling “How To Be A Good Wife.”

On par with previous years, 81 films screen at the UniFrance Rendez-Vous, but more of these movies (about three-quarters) are having market premieres, said Gilles Renouard, the co-managing director of UniFrance. “There are more fresh films set to play and that underscores the fact that the turnover of films being sold at markets is quicker than before, and it also shows that sales agents now tend to refresh their slates more often,” said Renouard.

Out of the 81 films set to screen at the Rendez-Vous, only 19 of them are directed by women. Renouard said the proportion reflected the national statistic of films directed by women which make up about 24% of all movies produced in France annually. Reflecting on the lineup’s gender gap, Renouard also noted that female directors were less active in the field of comedy which remains the most widely represented genre at the Rendez-Vous.

Comedies are indeed leading the pack once again at this edition, repping nearly half of the roster of films. Some of the recurring themes in this year’s comedies are about the family, the role of women in society and adolescence. “Many of these comedies raise sociological issues,” said Renouard.

Other anticipated films unspooling at the Rendez-Vous include “Mon Cousin,” Jan Kounen’s comedy with Vincent Lindon and Francois Damiens (sold by Pathé International), Fabienne Berthaud’s “A Bigger World” with Cecile de France (sold by WaZabi Films), and Gabriel Le Baumin’s “De Gaulle,” a historical drama charting the epic rise of Charles de Gaulle, the French general who built the Resistance movement during WWII (sold by SND).

A popular event aimed at European buyers, this edition of the UniFrance Rendez-Vous has drawn more than 450 distributors from 49 countries. German distributors make up the biggest contingent among buyers. Three major Latin American distributors will also be on hand, CDI (Argentina), Nueva Era (Mexico), Imovision (Brazil) and Piano (Mexico).

A flurry of buyers and reps from streaming services are expected to attend, including executives from Filmin, Huawei Video, Megogo, Mubi, Netflix, Okko, Proximus, Telecub/Swisscom and UniversCiné Belgium. UniFrance is hosting a showcase for streamers titled “RDV on Demand.” Execs from 14 platforms are attending the Rendez-Vous to be take part in the initiative.

The UniFrance Rendez-Vous, which is presided by Serge Toubiana and headed by Daniela Elstner, is hosting a dinner for the foreign press and talents, as well as a ceremony honoring Olivier Assayas (“Wasp Network”) with the French Cinema Award.

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