A dozen French films of very different genres are slated for release in the UK in upcoming weeks, backed by ambitious premiere screenings.
Unifrance is working alongside this newfound infatuation with French fare, busily rallying French actors and directors and offering support to local distributors, whose release strategies are particularly dynamic and innovative at this time.
A host of French actors and actresses are either currently in the UK, or have recently made the trip across the Channel, to promote films which will hit UK screens this summer:
Audrey Tautou and Pierre Salvadori for Hors de Prix (Priceless), to be released June 13 by Icon, the distributor of La Môme (La Vie en Rose) which was released on the same date last year;
Sandrine Bonnaire for Elle s’appelle Sabine (Her Name is Sabine), to be released June 20 by ICA;
Abdelatif Kechiche for La Graine et le Mulet (also released as The Secret of the Grain), to be released June 20 by Artificial Eye;
Sophie Marceau, Jean-Paul Salomé, and Deborah François for Les Femmes de l’ombre (Female Agents), to be released June 27 by Revolver, the distributor of Tell No One, released on the same date last year;
Virginie Ledoyen, Vincent Lindon, Pascal Elbé, Bernadette Laffont, Dominique Farrugia, and Lorraine Levy for Mes amis, mes amours (London mon amour), to be released July 4 by Pathé UK;
Olivier Assayas for L’Heure d’été (Summer Hours), to be released July 18 by Artificial Eye;
Cédric Klapisch for Paris, to be released July 25 by Optimum;
François Ozon, Romola Garai, and Lucy Russel for Angel, to be released August 29 by Lions Gate;
Kristin Scott-Thomas and Paul Claudel for Il y a longtemps que je t’aime (I've Loved You So Long), to be released September 26 by Lionsgate;
A number of other French titles, including Le Renard et l’enfant (The Fox & the Child) are also due for release on British screens this summer.
Also at this time, the Edinburgh International Film Festival, which is being held for the first time in the month of June (instead of the traditional month of August), is showcasing a selection of French films, including Paris by Cédric Klapisch, L’Heure d’été (Summer Hours) by Olivier Assayas, Mange, ceci est mon corps (Eat, for This Is My Body) by Michelange Quay, and Peur(s) du noir (Fear(s) of the Dark), a collective animated film, along with a retrospective of Jeanne Moreau’s films (18 titles).
This rich and diverse range of French titles released in Britain coincides with the start of France’s Presidency of the European Union, with the second 6 months of 2008 to be marked by the launch of numerous artistic initiatives, such as a collaborative dance performance between the British choreographer Akram Kahn and the French actress Juliette Binoche. In parallel, a major retrospective of Juliette Binoche’s work is to be programmed at the BFI.
In recent years, French films have achieved excellent results in the UK, a famously difficult territory for non-English language productions. French productions currently capture close to 2% of the theatrical market and attract an estimated 3 million spectators (precise figures are not available as only British box office results are recorded). In 2007, French films reached unseen heights at the box office, upping a market share that traditionally rarely crosses the 1% threshold.
Arthur et les Minimoys (Arthur and the Invisibles) was a smash hit on British screens, registering almost 1.2 million admissions, while other titles posted unusually high results for French films, such as La Môme (La Vie en Rose) with 325,000 admissions and Ne le dis à personne (Tell No One) with 245,000 admissions. Overall results can nonetheless be credited to the 51 French films were released in this territory in 2007, including 2 Days in Paris (136,000 admissions), La Science des rêves (The Science of Sleep, 125,000 admissions), Mon meilleur ami (My Best Friend, 80,000 admissions), Molière (75,000 admissions), Quand j’étais chanteur (The Singer, 56,000 admissions), and Lady Chatterley (50,000 admissions).
The British distribution environment is wide-ranging, dynamic, and highly-motivated, featuring operators such as Artificial Eye, Optimum, Revolver, Soda, Metrodome, Icon, The Works, ICA, Dogwoof, and Pathé, who together represent French films in Britain.