Monaco film-lit forum leaps hurdles

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MONTE CARLO, Monaco -- "Adaptation" was the key word at Monaco's sixth annual International Cinema and Literature Forum as organizers scrambled to adjust to airline strikes in Paris on Thursday that prevented many attendees from making it in time for the start of the three-day book-to-film confab. President of Honor Milos Forman also was a no-show after a bad fall in Prague prevented the Czech filmmaker from traveling.

Despite the setbacks, "everyone pulled through like champions," market director Edith Grant said. "They waited all day in the airport, took trains, did everything possible to get here." Forman's planned Masterclass was replaced by a dialogue between director Peter Webber and author Jean-Christophe Grange.

Mystery was in the air as round tables for Guillaume Canet's Cesar-winning thriller "Tell No One" and Claude Miller's upcoming "A Secret" were among the more popular events thanks to appearances by both helmers.

The parallel literary adaptation and remake market was bustling as publishing houses and agents pitched their stories to filmmakers from around the world. "(But) it's not a market for short-term deals. No one picks up a book in the morning, reads it in the afternoon and makes a deal that night. It's more about building relationships," France Televisions CEO Jean-Paul Commin said.

Marina Penalva-Halpin of Spanish lit and film agency Pontas concurred. "I always meet interesting people here. We have more time to talk, especially to French publishers, who I'd have had to make three or four trips to Paris to see otherwise," she said.

Execs appreciated the relaxed, intimate atmosphere of the smaller market. "Deals are made while joking around, while dining or having a drink, and that's wonderful," the Canadian Cultural Center's Jean-Philippe Raiche said.

Producers from Focus Features, Paramount and Anonymous Content discussed how subsidy laws and cultural differences are making the manuscript-to-movie trans-Atlantic translation increasingly difficult. "Europeans are stuck. If they make films in English, they receive no aid. If they do them in their own language, they don't travel well," Paramount director of acquisitions and co-productions Karen Adler said.

Financial concerns also were in the spotlight. Canet's "Tell No One" was almost a no-go when Attal was originally asked to pay a hefty $1.5 million for the rights. "Our checkbooks weren't fat enough," he explained. "It was only because of our friendship with Harlan Coben that we were able to make the film."
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