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Hong Kong Filmart: Unifrance to Launch L.A. and Mumbai Offices in September

Unifrance Regine Hatchondo P

The state-funded promoter of French cinema furthers its expansion overseas with its new foreign reps, as well as an enhanced presence in China.

HONG KONG – Unifrance, the organization established in 1949 to promote French films internationally, will be setting up two new overseas offices in September to expand its work abroad.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter at Hong Kong’s Filmart, where Unifrance is present with a delegation of 18 French sales agents, the organization’s executive director Regine Hatchondo said its new office in Los Angeles will take over campaigns on the West Coast of the U.S., with its current New York station looking after the East Coast.

Meanwhile, a new office in Mumbai will be attending to Unifrance’s work across Asia except China, where the organization has an office, and Japan and South Korea, which is covered by its Tokyo representative. Valerie-Anne Christen, the current delegate based in the Japanese capital, will relocate to India to launch the new office.

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“The Indian market is self-sufficient, but we have to improve also the position of French cinema in plenty of [Asian] markets such as Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Cambodia,” said Hatchondo. “These markets are dominated by American movies, and we have to think of a best way to be more present.”

Meanwhile, Unifrance also will be “getting married” to the annual international film festivals in Beijing and Shanghai to expand the audiences of French films in China, said Hatchondo. The next move will be the incorporation of the annual Gallic cinematic showcase in the Chinese capital, the French Film Panorama, into the Beijing International Film Festival.

After the festival's April 16-23 run, the programmed films will be screened in five other cities around the country, including Xi’an, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Wuhan and Nanjing, said Unifrance’s Beijing representative, Isabelle Glachant.

A Hatchondo-led delegation will be present in Beijing to attend the festival’s film market, which runs April 20-22. Hatchondo said representatives of Haut et Court, the producers of films such as Laurent Cantet’s Palme d’Or winner The Class and his latest Canada-set drama Foxfire, will be bringing a project to the event’s co-production market.