In the Official Selection
Summer of 85 by François Ozon
For François Ozon's new film Summer of 85, which was released in France in July, its exposure at TIFF, followed by San Sebastián, can be seen as an extension of the period of the film's sales, which are handled by Playtime—and as an extension of a strategy that began at the time of the Berlin Film Market and continued with the virtual Cannes Film Market. In the words of Nicolas Brigaud-Robert, sales director at Playtime (who have sold all of the director's films since The New Girlfriend), selling a film by Ozon, despite the prestige that is automatically associated with it, "is never easy, because just as markets evolve so do the strategies of distributors. Some of them are regular collaborators, but every now and then a distributor we've never worked with before might offer us a highly original and appropriate strategy that wins us over. That was the case with Flag for Japan [in charge of the marketing campaign for Netflix Japan], who were clearly aiming to appeal to younger audiences with Summer of 85." Brigaud-Robert nonetheless stresses that the film is presented and marketed as targeting all audiences, and not via the specific prism of LGBT issues, "which cinema now is moving beyond". Sold in around forty markets to date (a typical number for a film by François Ozon), Summer of 85 may well see its sales supplemented thanks to TIFF and San Sebastián, after which it will begin its international run, exclusively shown in theaters. When the subject of the increasing power of digital platforms is raised, Brigaud-Robert states that "the term 'platform' is a portmanteau word." He explains, "We must make a distinction between the digital studios that produce the majority of their own content, whose outside contributions are therefore low, and Pay TV platforms, for whom the issue is not new, particularly concerning genre films. This market has become more dynamic because there are more and players operating in it, but it has always existed. What's really new is a platform that will take on the global rights for a foreign-language production. That's where the revolution in the sector lies, and this raises a lot of questions about the marketing of films, but there is no longer that cultural barrier that used to block everything. If Netflix had offered us a global acquisition deal for Summer of 85, we would have discussed it with the director. Our focus is always to optimize the revenues of a film, and to ensure that we follow the intentions of the creative team."
Industry Selects section
Simple Passion by Danielle Arbid & A Good Man by Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar
Pyramide International is presenting two films at TIFF 2020, quite impressive considering the slimmed-down lineup this year. Éric Lagesse, president of Pyramide, is delighted that these films—both of which carry the Cannes 2020 Label—are included in the Industry Selects section, even if he believes that had it been a "normal" year, they would have undoubtedly been chosen in the Discovery or Contemporary sections. For Simple Passion, the new feature by Danielle Arbid (a majority-French coproduction by Les Films Pelléas), what served as the foundation of the sales strategy was the novel by Annie Ernaux, on which the film is based and which is relatively well known internationally. A series of clips from the film shown at the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in Paris and a promo reel screened at Berlin were enough to convince a number of distributors (South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Russia, Ukraine), but it has still not yet been shown in its entirety. It is eagerly awaited at the TIFF virtual Film Market and its world premiere at San Sebastián.
The sensuality of the film, which could boost sales, is closely tied to the essence of the book, but also to the fact that "Danielle Arbid is a director who doesn't hold back." The same can be said of Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar, director of another Pyramide film presented at TIFF, A Good Man, in which Eric Lagesse has high international expectations. "I was aware of that when I showed it to the regular distributors of the director's films. The subject [a romantic relationship and the pregnancy of a trans man] is perhaps less conventional than her previous films, but this is a film that is not afraid to take risks, like we've never seen before. It takes a social issue, as Marie-Castille always does, but refuses to box itself in. It's hard to predict which way it will go." The Industry Selects section at TIFF will be the launchpad, and the moment of truth, for this film which has so far been sold in Switzerland and Benelux countries, and which has already stirred up a heated debate even before anyone has really seen it—prompted by the main character being played by Noémie Merlant, who is not transsexual. "Marie-Castille, who produced the documentary Coby that initially inspired her to make A Good Man, quickly dispels these arguments, and it's hardly a deluge: the film has been given the stamp of approval by many members of the trans community, because what it advocates above all else is tolerance."
A film included in the Short Cuts 3 program, "Where we summon the strange and the uncanny" (6:00 p.m. Online at Bell Digital Cinema):
Tie (Portugal/France), for which she wrote the screenplay with Regina Guimarães, is the first film directed solo by Alexandra Ramires, a surreal animation set against a bleak and unsettling landscape where two figures meet and come to realize what they have to offer each other.
A graduate from the University of Fine Arts in Lisbon, Alexandra Ramires has always worked with drawing and its connection with film with the use of printing techniques. She was acclaimed at the 2017 Cannes Critics' Week for Áqua mole, which she co-directed with Laura Gonçalves.
French films scheduled for release in France before the end of 2020
By Sylvain Devarieux
Following the first releases of the summer season, French cinema has come back in force with a slate of films offering a great diversity that will hit theaters before the year is out.
Among the comedies up for viewing, and just as Mama Weed by Jean-Paul Salomé has opened with excellent results (25,000 admissions on its opening day, including preview screenings), we can expect the arrival of Christmas with the Tuche by Olivier Baroux, the new opus from a multi-million-euro franchise in France (11.84 million admissions) and Kaamelott by Alexandre Astier, based on a highly popular TV series. There is also 30 Days Left by Tarek Boudali (whose film Marry Me, Dude raked in 2.47 million admissions in 2018), My Donkey, My Lover & I by Caroline Vignal (photo), The ABCs of Love by Noémie Saglio, My Cousin by Jan Kounen, Miss by Ruben Alves, and, at Christmas, The Speech by Laurent Tirard. Not to mention the uncategorizable Quentin Dupieux, with Mandibles, and Albert Dupontel, with Bye Bye Morons.
In other genres, we have event pics coming up, such as Aline, the Voice of Love by Valérie Lemercier, a faux biopic inspired by the life of Céline Dion, and the crime movie from Marseille, The Stronghold by Cédric Jimenez.
Other directors are making a comeback to theaters, including Emmanuel Mouret with Love Affair(s), Maïwenn with DNA, Marc Fitoussi with the thriller Appearances, and Lucas Belvaux with Home Front. Added to these titles is a string of debut and second films, such as Dear Mother by the actor Laurent Lafitte, Slalom by Charlène Favier, Gagarine by Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh, Red Soil by Farid Bentoumi, Final Set by Quentin Reynaud, Gold For Dogs by Anna Cazenave-Cambet, Spring Blossom by Suzanne Lindon, and Haute couture by Sylvie Ohayon.
Among titles aimed at young audiences, there is Poly by Nicolas Vanier, adapted from a popular novel for young people from the 1960s, as well as Calamity by Rémi Chayé, winner of the Golden Cristal Award at Annecy.
And finally, French cinema is making considerable inroads in the field of genre films, with, in particular, the first French crime movie set in a superhero universe, How I Became a Super Hero by Douglas Attal, the fantasy flick The Swarm by Just Philippot, and Teddy by Ludovic and Zoran Boukherma, slated for release early 2021.