Immersive French works and their creators enjoyed wide visibility outside France in 2021, despite the fact that the pandemic forced many events to be converted to online formats or postponed (Sundance, Tribeca, SXSW, among others). Nonetheless, a number of events were held physically or in a hybrid format.
At festivals with which Unifrance is a partner, over sixty selections included French works in 2021, with seven prizes awarded at five festivals (Venice, BIAF, Anim’Est, SXSW, GIFF), demonstrating the vitality of our productions in the international arena.
With the aim of drawing attention to and raising the profile of French works selected at industry events, and to provide support to festivals, Unifrance has adapted its approach to suit the conditions of each event and has organized key events during festivals to highlight French directors, talents, and professionals in the sector. Unifrance thus collaborated for the first time with the NewImages Festival with the creation of the Export Grant. In addition, we promoted the visibility of French XR works at Venice, notably by hosting a panel discussion on the subject of French XR works. In Taiwan, Unifrance provided support to the first showcase entirely dedicated to French works, Digital Common Sense, organized in association with PXN, Et@t, and the Taipei Film Festival. Unifrance also renewed its backing for French Immersion, a support fund managed by the French Embassy in New York, with support from the CNC and the Institut français, which is dedicated to accompanying immersive works at key festivals in the USA throughout the year.
With the lifting of health restrictions, there are new challenges to be faced. Unifrance underwent a complete restructuring in 2021 and now accompanies all of the professionals in the film and television sectors, covering all production forms and formats: long, short, television, immersive, and so forth. With this momentum in place, new members have joined our ranks and new transversal operations are being developed. Unifrance is increasing its expertise and building its networks of partners in the animation and documentary spheres, while planning ahead for developments in digital distribution and visibility possibilities for creative works.
Unifrance is strengthening support for its members who are creators of immersive works through dialog and discussions taking place at our commissions, at which three elected members represent this field of creation, as well as in a special work group that has scheduled a new meeting in the near future.
This new biannual newsletter will report on the exploits of French XR productions on the international scene, as well as requests for projects and the current and future activities of Unifrance.
Selections and awards at international festivals and events: second half of 2021
Venice International Film Festival
Five XR works were in competition at the 2021 festival: three VR works (End of Night, Goliath: Playing With Reality, and The Starry Sand Beach), one AR work (Bedlam, which is the debut project by the new company El-Gabal helmed by Antoine Cardon and Marie Jourdren), and one installation work (Le Bal de Paris de Blanca Li, produced by Film Addict), which won the award for Best VR Experience.
In addition to Le Bal de Paris de Blanca Li, the two awards given to XR works at the festival went to French productions and coproductions. The Grand Jury Prize was given to Goliath: Playing With Reality, coproduced by the French company Floréal, while the award for Best VR Story went to End of Night, a historical journey set in Denmark during World War II.
As well as supporting the works in competition, Unifrance organized a panel discussion aimed at highlighting the international exposure of French XR creations, moderated by Liz Rosenthal (programming director of the XR section, along with Michel Reilhac), which brought together Katayoun Dibamehr (producer, Floréal Films), Antoine Cayrol (producer, Atlas V), and Mathias Chelebourg (director, Alice, the Virtual Reality Play).
A selection of French projects at development stage were presented to the GAP FINANCING MARKET as part of the Venice Production Bridge, held from September 3 to 5, 2021. Six of the thirteen VR projects presented were French, and included fictions, documentaries, animations and interactive installation experiences. Projects included original stories as well as adaptations. All of the projects presented had 30% of their budgets guaranteed.
- Blood Speaks, in development with Floréal
- Confident, developed by Maneki Films
- Empereur, developed by Atlas V
- Fight Back VR, in development with Red Corner / Lucid Realities
Finally, two French projects were presented at the 5th edition of the Biennale College. The eleven projects showcased were at different development stages, from pre-production to post-production.
- Duchampiana, in production with the Breton company Tchikiboum
- Highlife VR, developed by Lucid Realities
Ottawa International Animation Festival
One French VR production was selected at the Ottawa International Animation Festival, held from September 22 through October 3, 2021: Recoding Entropia, produced by DA PROD and directed by François Vautier
Two French works were programmed at the 2021 Biaf International Animation Festival:
- Dislocation, a French work coproduced by Bagan Films
- The Hangman at Home - VR (Single User) produced by Floréal
The Hangman at Home was honored with the Jury Rrize in the VR Competition.
BFI London Film Festival
The second opus by Clément Deneux, Missing Pictures: Tsai Ming-Liang, was screened in the LFF Expanded competition.
Following his first work dedicated to the work of director Abel Ferrara, this immersive documentary takes us on a journey with director Tsai Ming-Liang.
Taiwan: Digital Common Sense
Unifrance joined forces for the first time with Taiwan to support Digital Common Sense, the brand new showcase for VR works in Taiwan. In partnership with the company Et@t and the Taipei Film Festival, this first exhibition entirely devoted to French XR works in Taiwan kicked off for the media on October 1, 2021, and opened for the public from October 12 through November 14, 2021. Ten works produced or coproduced by France were on show, reflecting the diversity of current French creations.
- Biolum, directed by Abel Kohen and produced by IKO, which notably received the Export Grant at the previous edition of the NewImages Festival
- The Passengers by Ziad Touma, produced by Les Produits Frais
- I Saw the Future - VR, Odyssey 1.4.9 and Recoding Entropia, three works by François Vautier, all produced by the company DA PROD
- Missing Pictures: Birds of Prey by Clément Deneux, produced by Atlas V
- SPHERES by Eliza McNitt, produced by Atlas V and Novelab
- Lady Sapiens, The Experience by Camille Duvelleroy, produced by France Télévisions and Little Big Story, distributed by Lucid Realities
- Jailbirds – Bwa Kayiman by Thomas Villepoux, produced by Digital Rise
- The Hangman at Home - VR (Single User) by Michelle Kranot and Uri Kranot produced by Miyu Productions, Floréal and distributed by Lucid Realities
Unifrance also participated in a panel discussion on the subject of the French immersive meida sector and the schemes available for international promotion, in collaboration with the French Bureau in Taipei, the Institut Français, PXN - Association of Producers of Digital Experiences Numériques, the company Et@t, and the Taipei Film Festival, held on November 18, 2021.
Montreal Festival du Nouveau Cinéma
3 French XR works were in competition in the FNC eXPLore section at the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma in Montreal, held from October 6 through 17, 2021:
- End of Night by David Adler coproduced by Novelab
- Madrid Noir by James A. Castillo produced by Atlas V
- Goliath: Playing With Reality by Barry Gene Murphy coproduced by Floréal
The interactive documentary coproduced by Floréal Films also received a Special Mention at this 50th anniversary event.
Kaohsiung Film Festival (KFF)
This Taiwanese festival shone a spotlight on French works in 2021, with six titles selected in the VR competition:
- Goliath: Playing With Reality by Barry Gene Murphy, coproduced by Floréal
- Jailbirds – Bwa Kayiman, produced by Digital Rise and created by Thomas Villepoux
- The Passengers, produced by Les Produits Frais and created by Ziad Touma
- Madrid Noir by James A. Castillo, produced by Atlas V
- Recoding Entropia, produced by DA PROD and created by François Vautier
- The Hangman at Home - VR (Single User) by Michelle Kranot & Uri Kranot and coproduced Miyu Productions and Floréal
The installation work Le Bal de Paris de Blanca Li was also presented out of competition.
Geneva International Film Festival (GIFF)
Unifrance was on hand for the first edition of GIFF, held from November 5 through 14, 2021. Eight works produced or coproduced by France were showcased at the event:
Two A/R works:
- When She Gets Out ..., created by Marie Sellier and produced by Lucid Realities, coproduced with Le Musée d'Orsay and France Télévisions
- Seven Grams, a documentary focusing on the components of iPhones, their origins, and the impact of this industry in the Democratic Republic of Congo (modern slavery, forced underage workers, the violation of Human Rights). Created by Karim Ben Khelifa and produced by Lucid Realities and France Télévisions
- End of Night, produced by Novelab
- Glimpse, produced by Atlas V
- Biolum, produced by IKO, which won the Future Is Sensible Award
- eterotopia: Mirrors & Perspectives, produced by Tamanoir Immersive Studio
- The Passengers, produced by Les Produits Frais
- Goliath: Playing With Reality, produced by Floréal
Pitching projects in development:
Projects were presented during the Geneva Digital Market: since 2019, GDM has organized international coproduction meetings on the subject of immersive media works. These meetings seek to stimulate the coproductions between Switzerland and other European countries. Projects presented are at the development and/or production stage. Fifteen project leaders pitched their projects to Swiss and other European producers.
Three French projects were presented: Biblioquête produced by Red Corner, Melancholia produced by Lucid Realities and a_BAHN, and Continuum VR, produced by the company Canvar.
International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam
A festival specializing in documentaries, held from November 17 through 28, 2021, this year's event offered French works a major presence, with three coproductions presented:
The multi-award-winning Goliath: Playing With Reality, the second work by Clément Deneux Missing Pictures: Tsai Ming-Liang, and the immersive documentary Camille & Ulysse. All three productions were selected in the DocLab Spotlight section.
TSFM - Torino Short Film Market
For the 6th edition of the Torino Short Film Market, Unifrance renewed its partnership with the market with the organization of a day devoted to XR works on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. Panel discussions were held on the subject of immersive media works, as well as pitch sessions. A French project was selected at the market: The Metamorphoses of Paris by Bernard George, produced by Cinétévé Expérience.
This year for the first time, as part of the showcase I LOVE FRENCH XR, Unifrance and the Torino Short Film Market hosted a presentation held at the Museo del Cinema of the most outstanding French XR productions of recent years. From December 2 through 4, 2021, a selection of immersive works were on show at the Museo Nazionale del Cinema, including 12 French titles. The program was presented in partnership with the company Diversion cinema:
- SPHERES by Eliza McNitt
- The Hangman at Home - VR (Single User) by Michelle Kranot, Uri Kranot
- The Passengers by Ziad Touma
- Missing Pictures: Birds of Prey by Clément Deneux
- Recoding Entropia by François Vautier
- Odyssey 1.4.9 by François Vautier
- -22.7°C by Jan Kounen, Molécule, Amaury La Burthe
- The Real Thing by Benoît Felici, Mathias Chelebourg
- 700 Sharks by Manuel Lefèvre
- Equator 360 by Nicolas Jolliet
- Ayahuasca (Kosmik journey) by Jan Kounen
- Dreamin'Zone by Fabienne Giezendanner
Launch of the Galaxy Network
Along with a group of leading players in the VR sector, the company Diversion cinema has created the Galaxy Network, a new distribution concept for international XR works, with its first exhibition titled Galaxy Network VR Exhibition Fall 2021. From October 26, 2021, a selection of the best French and international VR experiences have been promoted in six countries and eight satellite locations around the world.
This exhibition was presented in a coordinated operation held in eight cities in six countries: Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Russia, and Turkey, with support from the Institut Français. The creation of this event was made possible notably by the determination of a group of people from the artistic branch of the VR scene, united by a shared desire: to raise awareness and promote high quality content to wider audiences at markets held on a national scale.
Four of the twelve works selected from around the world demonstrated the diversity of current French productions:
- Ayahuasca (Kosmik journey) by Jan Kounen produced by Atlas V
- Vestige, created by Aaron Bradbury and also produced by Atlas V
- PLANET ∞ by Momoko Seto, produced by Barberousse Films, coproduced by Arte
- Rebuilding Notre Dame, a documentary by Targo, directed by Chloé Rochereuil
Since 2009, Orange and the Beaumarchais-SACD association - have joined forces to support innovative projects, and for the past three years this has included immersive works. Two grants valued at €30,000 contribute to funding and accompanying two projects at the writing and development stage. Unifrance, a partner of this grant, commits to supporting the director in promoting their work via a travel support scheme set in place once the work has been completed.
The winners of the grant this year were Empereur, created by Marion Burger and Ilan Cohen, produced by Atlas V, and Mono No Aware by Boris Labbé, produced by Sacrebleu Productions (photo ci-dessous).
A study on the sale of immersive works in 2020
For the fourth consecutive year, a study on the sale of immersive works was published by Unifrance in September 2021, as part of our general report on 2020.
The revenues generated in 2020 are more than promising, with around €540,000 registered in this period, marking a rise of 12.4% over 2019.
It is also interesting to note the increasing number of titles sold for export: 36 titles compared to 33 in 2019. The average revenues per sale also rose significantly, from €385 in 2017 to €4,605 in 2020.
Animations gained ground, becoming the genre that generated the highest revenues in the past 4 years, with this trend bolstered by the abovementioned selections and awards.
Calendar for events and requests for projects
Dates for registrations currently open and upcoming:
- Taiwan Residency and the Villa Medicis: registration from January 6 to March 31, 2022
- Annecy Film Festival: registration from October 2021 to April 6, 2022
- Encounters Film Festival: registration from March 28 to June 13
- Raindance Film Festival: registration from April 11 to June 13, 2022
- Ji-Hlava Film Festival: registration from mid-February, 2022
- DOK Leipzig: registration from March 1 to July 1, 2022
- IDFA: registration open until June 28
Upcoming events (February to June, 2022):
- SXSW South by SouthWest: March 11-19, 2022
- CPH:DOX: March 23 to April 3, 2022
- International Short Film Festival Nijmegen (Go Short): April 6-10, 2022
- iMMERSITY - Les Assises de la XR: April 6-8, 2022
- Laval Virtual: April 12-14, 2022
- Cannes XR: May 17-22, 2022
- Annecy International Animation Film Festival: June 13-18, 2022
- NewImages Festival: June 8-12 juin, 2022
If you wish to provide us any information or inform us about a production's selection at an event or an award that are not mentioned in this article, please contact us!
In connection with this news
Anim'Est - 2021
Feature film and short film festival
BFI London Film Festival - 2021
Feature film and short film festival