Record attendance figures were registered in the two theaters hosting this year’s Rendez-vous with French Cinema in New York. 15 films were screened at the event’s traditional location, Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, attracting 8,761 spectators, with an average of 2 screenings per film programmed. Theaters were packed to an impressive 93% of seating capacity. This marks an improvement over 2007’s event, also hailed as a great success, at which theater capacity reached 81%. It is worth noting that the Rendez-vous events have stood out in recent years as the most popular program presented by Lincoln Center’s Film Society, after the New York Film Festival in September, which in 2007 featured 10 French productions and co-productions among 30 titles selected.
Unifrance’s new strategic decision to limit programs to one screening per film at the IFC Center also hit the mark, with around 1,500 moviegoers filling 75% of theater seats. This year’s figures are highly encouraging, following in the wake of less successful program strategies in the two previous years at this magnificent independent 3-screen complex in Greenwich Village. This year’s success bears witness to a more stable audience base for French films in downtown New York, which is not always reflected in the specialized theaters further north in Manhattan, where we must work to preserve and expand our audience base.
With the exception of Sophie Marceau, all the French directors were present at the event, along with three actors, Laetitia Spigarelli (Heartbeat Detector), Elsa Zylberstein (The Feelings Factory), and Louis Garrel (Love Songs). All these artists took part in discussions held at the end of screenings, and met with media representatives for individual interviews as well as a press luncheon hosted by the Cultural Services Department of the French Embassy, at which 50 American journalists were received by the French delegation.
Two special screenings were held as a sidebar event to the Rendez-vous: Love Songs was screened at the BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music, whose cultural and commercial facilities attract an enthusiastic audience of movie-lovers in Brooklyn), in the presence of Christophe Honoré and Louis Garrel. A screening of Her Name is Sabine was held at the Florence Gould Hall at the FIAF (French Institute/Alliance Française), presented by its director Sandrine Bonnaire, followed by a discussions and a reception held in Ms Bonnaire’s honor.
Four of the fifteen films showcased at the Rendez-vous had already secured a North American distributor prior to the event:
• Roman de gare by Claude Lelouch (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
• Heartbeat Detector by Nicolas Klotz (Red Envelope/New Yorker Films)
• Love Songs by Christophe Honoré
• Her Name is Sabine by Sandrine Bonnaire.
Following the New York screenings, French sales agents and American distributors announced the acquisition of four other French titles, once again confirming the commercial potential of the Rendez-vous event:
• The Grocer’s Son by Éric Guirado, distributor: Film Movement (sales agent: Films du Losange)
• Paris, by Cédric Klapisch, distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films (sales agent: StudioCanal)
• A Secret by Claude Miller, distributor: Strand Releasing (sales agent: UGC International)
• Fear(s) of the Dark, a collective animated film, distributor: IFC (sales agent: Celluloid Dreams).
The remaining films in the Rendez-vous selection were: Ain’t Scared by Audrey Estrougo, All Is Forgiven by Mia Hansen-Love, Shall We Kiss? by Emmanuel Mouret, Those Who Remain by Anne Le Ny, Let’s Dance! by Noémie Lvovsky, The Feelings Factory by Jean-Marc Moutout, and Trivial by Sophie Marceau.
As part of the On Set with French Cinema program, Claude Lelouch and Claude Miller led master classes at Columbia University and the School of Visual Arts in New York.
For the first time this year, Unifrance and the Audiovisual Department at the French Embassy organized a work meeting for movie professionals, in collaboration with the team from IFP (Independent Feature Project), a professional association aimed at promoting and supporting independent film production in the USA and abroad. The work meeting focused on a presentation made to French sales agents and distributors of a review of alternative distribution models for foreign films in the United States, including video-on-demand (VOD). Jonathan Sehring, president of CEO of IFC Entertainment, shared the strategies employed by this distributor, who is now the major buyer of French films for the United States. In addition to offering films a traditional theatrical release, IFC Entertainment provides a complementary VOD option on the On Demand platform IFC Festival Direct and on I-Tunes. Vanessa Arteaga from Jaman and Al Cattabiani from FilmCatcher then presented the objectives of these websites. Jaman’s service consists of offering online film distribution in multiple territories (in March 2008, just 17 of the 1,000 films available on this service are French titles). FilmCatcher’s goal is to raise the profile of independent and foreign films which are made available via DVD or downloads from various suppliers. The three speakers stressed to the French professionals present that the distribution landscape for films in the United States is currently undergoing a major transformation, and that new distribution channels, which are developing at a rapid pace, will provide a vital source of revenue for both foreign films and independent American films in the near future.
Latest update : 23 April 2009 à 13:02 CEST