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UniFrance, the organization in charge of promoting French cinema worldwide, is set to showcase nearly 70 completed movies, including 30 market premieres, at the virtual 23rd edition of its Rendez-Vous With French Cinema (Jan. 13-15), a key market for the export of French movies.

The Rendez-Vous will kick off with Eric Besnard’s 18th-century-set drama “Delicieux” (pictured) from SND, along with market premieres of other anticipated releases, notably Valerie Lemercier’s “Aline,” Gaumont’s film inspired by the life of Celine Dion; Christophe Barratier’s feel-good film “Fly Me Away” from Pathé; Clovis Cornillac’s “C’est magnifique” from Orange Studio; and Nicolas Cuche’s “Spoiled Brats” from Other Angle.

Other potential highlights set for market premieres include Kike Maíllo’s thriller “A Perfect Enemy” from Pulsar; Nine Antico’s sexy drama “Playlist” from Playtime; Naël Marandin’s “Beasts” from Kinology; Benoît Jacquot’s 1960s set romance drama “Suzanna Andler,” with Charlotte Gainsbourg, from Les Films du Losange; Nadège Loiseau’s “Three Times Nothing” from Le Pacte; and Chloé Mazlo’s “Skies of Lebanon” from Charades. Starting on Jan. 13, screenings will be hosted on Cinando, the platform that was also used for the Cannes Marché du Film, and have been scheduled at fixed hours.

“The size of the roster is on par with last year, with a wide range of movies, and as always different kinds of comedies, and perhaps more auteur films than usual,” said Gilles Renouard, joint managing director of UniFrance, who added that 41 sales companies are taking part in the market, also on par with previous editions.

For French sales agents, who represent every year a big chunk of the movies that play at major film festivals such as Cannes, the UniFrance Rendez-Vous marks the first market of the year and an opportunity to score deals on the more mainstream titles ahead of Berlin’s European Film Market – which will also go virtual.

Many films set for a market premiere, notably “Aline,” have had their local release postponed because theaters in France have been shut down since Oct. 30. The lineup also includes movies that were part of Cannes’ virtual 2020 official selection and have not yet been shown in theaters either.

The Rendez-Vous traditionally takes place at lavish venues in Paris, gathering European distributors, sales agents, French actors, filmmakers and producers around film presentations, panels and cocktails staged over a few days.

This year, in spite of the uncertainty over when cinemas will reopen, more than 800 buyers around the world have signed up for the event, compared with 450 distributors last year. The main reason behind this rise in attendance is the fact that the Rendez-Vous is expanding its scope to international buyers, rather than just European ones, said Renouard. Many buyers from Asia, in particular Japan, have signed up. Access to this year’s online market will be free, unlike previous editions.

“The French movie industry has not stopped production; our movies will be ready for the reopening of theaters, with an even greater diversity and richness on offer,” said Daniela Elsner and Serge Toubiana at UniFrance in a statement. France has actually been one of the countries that suffered least from the drop of theatrical admissions in 2020, due to the robustness of local productions, which made up for the dearth of Hollywood releases.

Renouard said the promotion org had ramped up the number of initiatives to create some momentum for sales agents and buyers around the Rendez-Vous. UniFrance has joined forces with independent cinemas to host 84 screenings across six countries and nine cities, notably Moscow, Belgium, Brussels, Switzerland, Roma, Munich, Spain, Madrid and Barcelona, to host physical screenings for accredited buyers.

UniFrance is also hosting an Industry Day on Tuesday focusing on the export of French films with several keynotes and roundtables attended by French and European industry players, including the minister of culture
Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, the filmmakers Nadav Lapid (“Synonymes”) and Jérémy Clapin (“I Lost My Body”). Panels will discuss ways to reach out to younger audiences; the work of sales agents; strategies for cinemas and festivals; and the role of European distributors and exhibitors in luring back moviegoers.