Paris Salon opens for business

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PARIS -- The first Salon du Cinema, a new cultural exhibition aimed at giving the public access to the world of filmmaking, will kick off its three-day run in Paris on Friday at the Porte de Versailles trade hall.

More than 50,000 people are expected to attend the event, which has nominated Morocco as the country of honor. Organized by Gad Abitbol, Jonathan Bryant and Moise Kissous, the exhibition will include conferences with leading directors and industry insiders, roundtable discussions, screenings, exhibitions, workshops and trailers of films to be released in the coming year.

Big names from the world of Gallic cinema scheduled to attend include actors Sara Forestier, Marina Hands and Alain Chabat and directors Jean-Paul Rappeneau, Lucas Belvaux, Christophe Barratier, Tony Gatlif, and Nils Tavernier (who plans to shoot a film at the event with the participation of Salon-goers).

The Peoples' Prize, chosen by the public via a Web site, will be awarded Saturday to actresses Audrey Tautou and Charlotte Gainsbourg and actors Gad Elmaleh and Alain Chabat.

Though the event was created for the community, it will take place concurrently with Unifrance's Rendez-Vous with French Cinema and, according to co-founder Jonathan Bryant, many professionals have expressed interest in participating.

"We've seen a real desire on the part of industry professionals to see and develop and share this event with the public," Bryant said.

An opening night gala paying homage to Henri Langlois will host more than 5,000 guests, including event sponsors, industry professionals, French Cultural Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres and Moroccan Communications Minister Mohammed Nabil Benabdallah, who will be accompanied by a contingent of thirty Moroccan actors and directors.

"It will be like a tiny Cannes in Paris," Bryant said. This year's Salon is dedicated primarily to French cinema, but organizers hope that the exhibition will become an annual event, with an increasing focus on international cinema.

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