The Shoot the Book adaption market — a staple at the Marché du Film since 2014 and a rising player on the global film scene — continues to evolve.
As the program — a joint initiative between publishing trade group SCELF (Société Civile des Editeurs de Langue Française) and the publicly funded Institut Français — continues to host curated pitch sessions at markets in Cannes, Shanghai and Los Angeles, it will also look to expand its B2B rendezvous component that was introduced last year.
“Our ambition is very simple,” says SCELF director Nathalie Piaskowski. “We want to entrench and entwine the two events. We want to make the rendezvous a fixture — and export it to other markets and festivals.”
And so on June 25, Shoot the Book will kick off this year’s edition with a morning pitch session — spotlighting 10 literary properties selected by an industry jury — and return in the afternoon for a three-hour meeting platform that will bring together publishers and producers and allow them to book direct discussions with one another.
“The two elements are inextricable,” says Piaskowski. “The pitches are the window display, the 10 titles offer a showcase in order to attract producers’ attention. Then with the subsequent rendezvous, we open on a more industry-wide level.”
Chosen for their adaptation potential, the 10 pitch titles were selected by a nine-member jury that includes Cannes-lauded filmmakers César Diaz (“Our Mothers”), Gaya Jiji (“My Favorite Fabric”) and Philippe Lacôte (“Run”) alongside fellow screenwriters, producers and directors with a serious international pedigree.
Other jurors included producers Jean-Claude van Rijckeghem (“Zagros”), Zdenka Gold (“God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya”) and Hayley Brown (“Chubby”), editor Sophie Reine (“Frankie”), documentarian Aboozar Amini (“Kabul, City in the Wind”) and screenwriter Haitham Dabbour (“Gunshot”).
Per Shoot the Book rules, the titles have to be of recent vintage and already benefit from a foreign-language translation. The English-language pitches will then be presented by the publisher, rather than the author, because, as the organizer explains: “We don’t think the author is always the best person to pitch the work. We think those who already commercially position the work are in the best position to present it.”
As the event opens in the afternoon to include a wider array of international publishers, this year’s decentralized, digital nature could play a role in further expanding the field.
“[We’re better-positioned to welcome] publishers who don’t have the means to come down to Cannes but who nonetheless would like to launch these discussions and make contact with producers,” she says.
“If people can do business online, if they can use these virtual applications to create partnerships, that can allow them to commercially develop a catalog they might not have otherwise had the time or money for.”
Accounting for nearly one-fifth of domestic production, literary adaptations — such as the war film “Home Front” and the steamy drama “Simple Passion,” both of which are presented in the market under the Cannes 2020 label — continue to be major drivers of the French film industry.
Meanwhile, on the international side, streamers are beginning to quickly follow suit.
“I think producers today see adaptations in a different light than they did a few years ago,” says Didier Dutour of the Institut Français. “The problems and risks are different now. They know that adapted properties are in fact advantageous for platforms.
“We’ve heard this directly from Amazon and Netflix,” he continues. “Far from being a problem, adaptations are enormously advantageous to them.
They develop faster and they bring in an existing fan base. So independent producers know they can attract the attention of an international streamer more easily with an adaption.”
Keeping those market forces in mind, Shoot the Book will host a conversation with Element Pictures’ Ed Guiney — the Dublin-based producer behind literary adaptations “Room,” BBC/Hulu’s limited series “Normal People” and its upcoming “Conversations With Friends” — to be broadcast on June 26.
With the talk, Dutour hopes to not only highlight one notable recent success, but to interrogate some of the creative choices that led to it. “As a producer, Ed Guiney brought on [‘Normal People’ author] Sally Rooney as screenwriter,” the organizer says.
“This wasn’t a case where the production bought the rights to a text and cut the author out; it wasn’t just a transaction. I think this kind of process is more interesting,” he adds. “And it’s something we wanted to spotlight.”
On June 25, Shoot the Book spotlights 10 literary properties chosen for the adaptation potential by a nine-member industry jury. The titles are:
By Gohril Gabrielson
Wintering alone in a remote Norwegian outpost, a scientist studying climate change loses herself in darkness and foreboding as she waits in vain for her lover to arrive.
“Black Water Lilies”
By Michel Bussi
A surly widow, a seductive femme fatale and a gifted preteen are brought together when a corpse is found outside of Claude Monet’s garden studio in Giverny.
“The Fearsome Mozart Widow”
By Isabelle Duquesnoy
Disgraced, debt-ridden and widowed before the age of 30, Constanze Mozart pulls herself and her family out of poverty while securing her late husband’s reputation. Spanning half a century, the novel follows as Mozart rescues her husband’s name from obscurity while developing into a shrewd and pioneering businesswomen.
“Les Fleurs de l’ombre”
By Tatiana de Rosnay
In the dystopian Paris of 2035, a writer mourning the death of her marriage moves into an artist’s residence only to find herself under constant surveillance.
By Valentine Goby
In 1944, 20-year old Resistance fighter Mila arrives pregnant and weakened at the Ravensbrück concentration camp. When her newborn is taken and brought to the “kinderzimmer” — the camp nursery — where newborns rarely live past three months, the young mother must fight against death and disease in order to protect her child.
“The Miracle Workshop”
By Valérie Tong Cuong
Three broken, desperate people from very different walks of life meet at an enigmatic guru’s miracle workshop, where they are given the opportunity to repair their greatest mistakes.
“This Little Family”
By Inès Bayard
A bleak psychological portrait about an upwardly mobile young Parisian unsure if the father of her unborn child is the man she married or the man who sexually assaulted her.
“To Die in Spring”
By Ralf Rothmann
Two teenage boys are pushed into the German army in the spring of 1945. In those final, bloody days of the conflict, the new conscripts are forced to fight and sacrifice for a side that already knows it has lost.
“Tous les Hommes n’habitent pas le monde de la même façon”
By Jean-Paul Dubois
From a prison cell in Montreal, an aging Frenchman reflects on his improbable life’s path with humor and melancholy. Winner of France prestigious Goncourt Prize for 2019.
“The Yankee Comandante”
By Gani Jakupi
The true story of William Alexander Morgan, an American ne’er-do-well who fled to Cuba to fight alongside Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Infamous in his day but forgotten over time, Morgan drew the ire of J. Edgar Hoover and was stripped of his nationality before falling out of favor with Cuba’s revolutionary government.