News in brief
02 March 2019 à 19:28
... Daniela Elstner, sales agent
Daniela Elstner has served as CEO of the sales company Doc & Film International since 2008, after working in film sales at Les Films du Losange. Doc & Film's catalogue includes around 800 titles, divided between film and television productions, with a special emphasis on documentaries and auteur films. Elstner is currently in New York to accompany the presentation of Whatever Happened to my Revolution by Judith Davis, and Coincoin and the Extra Humans by Bruno Dumont at the Rendez-Vous With French Cinema in New York.
You presented four films from your lineup at a pitch session with the Rendez-Vous, and your approach was very original—there were no previews and you gave a speech that was highly politicized. Was it your intention to appeal to the participating American distributors in a different way?
I started my presentation by trying to reiterate to US distributors how extremely important their work is: the distributors at this event are by and large those dealing in independent films. They are key players in the cultural scene and battle with challenges on a daily basis to distribute non-English-language films in this country. I then focused on the role of independent sales companies today, making it clear that without distributors' commitment to taking on the films we offer them, we are worth nothing. The Americans are one step ahead of us in terms of the major transformations underway in the field of film distribution, so therefore we can reassure them that we fully support them and that we are working in partnership with them, and, moreover, that we can join forces to work "in a different way" together. In Europe, we are in a very privileged situation as the majority of governments maintain policies of cultural protection, which have never existed in the United States, regarding media release chronology, for example. We can criticize their system, but it has its advantages. You need to be inventive when you work with Americans, and, above all, you need to be very observant, because trends often start here. And, knowing what's going on over here allows us to prepare ourselves for what will subsequently happen in our countries. So, the US market remains a highly important one, that is crucial for us to understand.
Doc & Film's lineup is very distinctive. What do expect from the Rendez-Vous in order to give these projects a life?
Our catalogue, highly specialized as it is, doesn't stop us from carving a niche for ourselves in the US market. In one form or another, all of our films end up being sold here—we always find a partner in one of the many distribution formats. There are so many levels of distribution possible nowadays. In addition to the more "classical" channels, which could, for example, fit in with the new film by Jonathan Nossiter, Last Words, for which we're handling sales, there's also the university network, limited releases, and so forth. Coincoin and the Extra Humans has been sold on an "all rights" basis by Kino Lorber and will be released in theaters in two two-hour segments, while Whatever Happened to my Revolution is lucky to have been selected for the 2019 Young French Cinema program—which by no means stops us from selling the film afterwards. Indeed, I've told all the film buyers that they should come and watch it at the Rendez-Vous! In the United States, everything's based on networking, and the Rendez-Vous events serve as an excellent meeting point for the industry. The more you get to know this country, the more you discover the good things that are going on, things we can learn from. Their vision of European cinema is open-minded, but arthouse distributors are constantly struggling to survive—therefore they're constantly questioning what they do, and that can be very inspiring for us.
Can you tell us about one particularly good memory of a film sale in the USA that you've experienced in your career as a sales agent?
The most fantastic moment for me was not one I lived through personally, because I had just had a baby, but I would say it was with Quand la mer monte..., which was sold by Les Films du Losange, where I was working at the time. It was screened at the Rendez-Vous in 2005, and Dan Talbot, distributor with New Yorker Films, came over to see the person who was replacing me at Losange right after the screening and said: "I'll buy it." It all happened in five minutes, and the film has enjoyed great success here. It was a real moment of infatuation. And that can happen again, for example, the Canadian distribution company A-Z Films saw Whatever Happened to my Revolution in Angoulême and said to me, "I want it! This is my price, take it or leave it." We must keep working with these people, they're absolutely indispensable.
Latest update : 04 March 2019 à 19:28 CET