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Festivals & events

13 July 2011 à 12:37

Outstanding success for the Varilux French Film Festival in Brazil

The 2011 Varilux French Film Festival hosted by Unifrance Films was held June 8 through 16 in 22 Brazilian cities.

Three leading ladies of French cinema-Catherine Deneuve, Sandrine Bonnaire, and Audrey Tautou-significantly boosted exposure to the event which this year enjoyed unprecedented success, attracting over 45,000 spectators. A number of events held to coincide with the festival also enriched its program, including a retrospective of the work of Sandrine Bonnaire, a Franco-Brazilian meeting for movie professionals, and a training workshop on animation techniques.

Since its inception in 2008, this Unifrance-sponsored festival has considerably extended its scope. Originally held only in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the event has now expanded to include 22 cities and 25 theaters, significantly aided by the use of digital technology. The cities now hosting the event are Belem, Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Campinas, Campos, Curitiba, Florianopolis, Fortaleza, Goiania, Joao Pessoa, Juiz de Fora, Macae, Maceio, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Santos, Sao Luis, Sao Paulo, and Vitoria. In 2010, the festival was held in 9 cities and 13 theaters, and registered 24,867 admissions.

This expansion of the event has been made possible by support from its major sponsor, Varilux, who have been involved since 2010, as well as private sponsors including Citroën, L’Oreal, and Sofitel. Important support has also been provided by the French Embassy in Brazil and the Alliance Française, which offer follow-up support in each city. Initially hosted by the French Embassy, the festival secured a private producer, Christian Boudier and his company Bonfilm, in 2010. As a result, the event has attracted private investment through Brazilian tax exemption schemes (which are not accessible to the French Embassy), allied with improved efficiency in the management of the event. The festival budget in 2011 was 350,000 euros, 25% of which was provided by Unifrance, the French Embassy, and the Alliance Française.

The Brazilian movie industry is currently enjoying a major upswing, with box office takings in 2010 reaching 548.4 million euros (134.9 million admissions), representing a 54% rise in admissions compared to 2007, largely due to the success of 3D films and a number of highly successful Brazilian titles. French films also registered an increase in attendance in Brazil in 2010, rising by 16.8%. Nonetheless, within the context of this market development, French films' market share remains very low at 0.7%. This expanded festival is thus a very timely event, and as such aims to take full advantage of the current growth in the Brazilian theatrical market by attracting audience interest in films slated for release following the event. The 10 films presented at the festival are, for the most part, titles that have already been acquired by Brazilian distributors, with their release scheduled soon after the event.

The festival lineup included the following films: A Cat in Paris by Alain Gagnol (screened in the presence of the director), Copacabana by Marc Fitoussi (in the presence of Aure Atika), Wolf by Nicolas Vanier (in the presence of the director), The Name of Love by Michel Leclerc (in the presence of the director), The Father of My Children by Mia Hansen-Love (in the presence of the producer Philippe Martin), Potiche by François Ozon (in the presence of Catherine Deneuve), Lights Out by Fabrice Gobert, Beautiful Lies by Pierre Salvadori (in the presence of Audrey Tautou), Black Venus by Abdellatif Kechiche (in the presence of Yahima Torres), and Queen to Play by Caroline Bottaro (in the presence of the director and Sandrine Bonnaire). The French artistic delegation accompanied the event in São Paulo (June 7-9) and Rio de Janeiro (June 9-12). The French Consulate in São Paulo hosted a luncheon for the delegation and local film and television professionals on June 8. The festival opened on the evening of June 8 in São Paulo at the Gazeta Theater located on the Avenue Paulista, with the 600-seat theater packed to the doors. The opening night in Rio was held June 9 at the Odeon Cinema, also in the presence of 600 spectators, followed by a cocktail reception at the Mayor's City Palace.

A retrospective dedicated to Sandrine Bonnaire featuring eight films that have marked the actress's career was organized as a sidebar event by the French Institute and the audiovisual department, held at the CineSESC in São Paulo and theaters at the Moreira Institute in Rio de Janeiro. Sandrine Bonnaire opened both retrospectives and took part in discussions with audiences in both cities. The retrospective (with 35mm screenings) will continue after the festival, traveling to the following cities: Porto Alegre (June 23-28), Belo Horizonte (July 7-14), Salvador (July 25-30), Recife (August 10-21), Brasilia (September 15-18), and Goiania (September 28 to October 5).

A professional meeting was also organized by the audiovisual department in Rio de Janeiro on June 10 on the theme of "Digital Cinema and Cultural Diversity" in collaboration with Unifrance, the CNC, the Brazilian National Cinema Agency, Brazil's Ministry of Culture, the Secretary of State for Culture in Rio de Janiero, and Cinema do Brasil. This meeting, comprising four round table discussions, gave around twenty French and Brazilian conference speakers the chance to analyze current changes in the film sector due to digital technology and to consider public and private initiatives within this context that may help to strengthen cultural diversity in the various distribution channels open to film product (theatrical distribution, television, the internet, and so forth). French speakers at the meeting included Frédéric Beyreziat (director of international affairs at the CNC), Grégoire Lasalle (president of Allocine), Frédéric Martel (journalist), Régine Hatchondo (executive director of Unifrance), Philippe Martin (film producer), and Nicole Delaunay (former director of theater exhibition at the CNC). 120 professionals from around Brazil signed up for these meetings, which were followed by a cocktail reception at the French Consulate in Rio de Janeiro.

Two outdoor screenings were organized by Bonfilm on June 11 at Fort Leme (A Cat in Paris and Orfeu Negro), held notably in the presence of young people from the Babilonia favela.

In collaboration with Brazil's Culture Ministry, the audiovisual department also hosted a master class on animated cinema at the Maison de France on June 13, led by Alain Gagnol, with around 80 industry professionals in attendance. The same evening, the Cinemaison presented a screening of A Cat in Paris and hosted a discussion between the film's director and audiences.

Results of this event certainly lived up to expectations: more than 45,000 spectators came out to see the films presented in the various cities, and ticket sales topped 135,000 euros. Beautiful Lies was particularly well-received, registering 6,555 admissions, not far behind the festival hit Potiche, with 7,041 admissions.

In terms of participating cinemas, the best results were credited to the Reserva Cultural in São Paulo, followed by the Joaquim Nabucco Foundation in Recife and the Arteplex Botafogo in Rio de Janeiro. Media coverage was excellent in all cities hosting the festival, thanks notably to the fact that the major journalists from each city were invited to attend the event in Rio de Janeiro.

The films presented at the 2011 Varilux French Film Festival were of an exceptionally high quality, and hopes are high that next year's event will charm Brazilian audiences to the same extent. The presence of French stars at such events remains invaluable for the promotion of French films abroad. In 2012, it would also be advisable to associate the event with the country's main cinema chains (while retaining the current art house cinema chain), since the challenge with this event is to convince the large cinema operators in Brazil, such as the American companies UCI and Cinemark, the Mexican group Cinepolis, and the Brazilian Severiano Ribeiro group, that French films can offer a profitable product. Improving French films' results in Brazil (as in other countries around the world) is a crucial component for achieving greater access to movie screens.

Author : Communications

Latest update : 20 July 2011 à 12:37 CEST

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Linked events (1)

French Film Varilux Panorama in Brazil - 2011

Type : Unifrance festival

Theme : French films