Unifrance has taken the innovative step of relocating the festival to the cities of Tokyo and Osaka after thirteen years based in Yokohama.
Unifrance President Margaret Menegoz will officially open the event in Tokyo March 15, alongside Carole Bouquet, president of this year's delegation. "Works" will be screened as festival opener in the Virgin Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills multiplex.
30 films will be showcased at the event, including 11 titles selected by Japanese distributors and 19 titles selected by French exporters. Unifrance is making some changes to its festival formula: Toho, Japan's largest exhibition chain, is now a festival partner, and will provide the location for screenings in two multiplexes in Tokyo: the Odaiba Cinema Mediage and Virgin Toho Cinemas, as well as one multiplex in Osaka. The aim of this new direction is to reach out to new audiences, to bring distributors and exporters together prior to the Hong Kong Filmart and the Cannes Film Festival, and to boost French films' performance in the Japanese market, which suffered some setbacks in 2005.
The selection includes 19 films that have not yet secured a buyer in the territory: "Balance of Terror" by Jean Martial Lefranc, "Carmen" by Jean-Pierre Limosin, "Le Courage d’aimer" by Claude Lelouch, "Saint Jacques... La Mecque" by Coline Serreau, "Nice Girl" by Sophie Fillières, "Royal Palace!" by Valérie Lemercier, "Alex" by José Alcala, "Hell" by Bruno Chiche, "Frankie" by Fabienne Berthaud, "Les Aiguilles rouges" by Jean-François Davy, "In His Hands" by Anne Fontaine, "All the Beauty of the World" by Marc Esposito, "Toi et moi" by Julie Lopes-Curval, "Never Say Never" by Eric Civanyan, "Du jour au lendemain" by Philippe Le Guay, " Love Is In The Air" by Rémi Bezançon, "De Profundis" by Antoine Santana, "Sheitan" by Kim Chapiron, "Works" by Brigitte Roüan. The festival also includes a program of 10 short films.
Japanese distributors have contributed 11 titles: "Merry Christmas" by Christian Carion (Kadogawa Herlad Pictures), "Un fil à la patte" by Michel Deville (Longride), "Trouble" by Harry Cleven (SPO), "They Came Back" by Robin Campillo (Longride), "By the Pricking of My Thumbs" by Pascal Thomas (Happinet Pictures), "Hidden" by Michael Haneke (Longride), "Fauteuils d’orchestre" by Danièle Thompson (Comstock), "The Passenger" by François Rotger (Tornado Films), "Les Poupées Russes" by Cédric Klapisch (Nippon Herald), "Not Here to Be Loved" by Stéphane Brizé (Cetera International), and "36" by Olivier Marchal (Asmik Ace Entertainment). The crew members present will be in high demand from journalists to take part in promoting the upcoming release of their films.
11 actors and 24 directors will be traveling to Japan to accompany their films: Fabienne Berthaud, Anne Consigny, Dani, Cécile de France, Sophie Fillières, Sara Forestier, Catherine Frot, Gabrielle Lazure, Valérie Lemercier, Julie Lopes-Curval, Natacha Régnier, Cécile Rousset, Danièle Thompson ; José Alcala, Rémi Bezançon, Stéphane Brizé, Robin Campillo, Christian Carion, Kim Chapiron, Bruno Chiche, Eric Civanyan, Harry Cleven, Jean-François Davy, Marc Esposito, Didier Fontan, Jean-Martial Lefranc, Pascal Légitimus. Philippe Le Guay, Claude Lelouch, Jean-Pierre Limosin, Benoit Magimel, Olivier Marchal, Stanislas Merhar, François Rotger, Antoine Santana, Pascal Thomas, and Christopher Thompson. The delgation will also include 24 exporters.
Traditionally one of French films' leading international markets, Japan registered disappointing results in 2005. Just 16 French films gained release in the territory, attracting 2.3 million spectators and posting €21 million in receipts. Japan now ranks in 8th place in terms of admissions figures for French films, and 6th place in terms of box office receipts, whereas, in recent, years the territory regularly stood out in 3rd or 4th position. This slump in the figures is linked to difficulties faced by Japanese distributors of French films in gaining access to theaters, and competition from other national industries, particularly Korean films. This festival will therefore serve as a test bed for possible improvements to be made in the promotion of French films in Japan.