Unrepped few on agents' radar as fest wanes

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CANNES -- As distributors jockey to acquire the next hot title unspooling at this year's Festival de Cannes, U.S. agents also are busying themselves in the pursuit of a small pool of unsigned talent on display here.

With only four days left in the festival, Endeavor appeared to be the big winner, signing two in-demand helmers. First-time director Spiros Stathoulopoulos, whose single-shot 85-minute thriller "PVC-1" caused a stir on the Croisette following its Directors' Fortnight bow Tuesday, inked with the agency after being chased by a phalanx of lit reps.

Endeavor also beat out rivals including UTA, CAA, WMA and ICM to land 27-year-old French helmer-scribe Julien Leclercq, whose feature-length debut "Chrysalis" was being sold to foreign territories by French giant Gaumont.

Leclercq also co-wrote the highly stylized sci-fi thriller, which garnered attention in February at the Berlin Film Festival and will be released in the fall in France and Belgium.

"More filmmakers with commercial voices have emerged this year than in years past, providing us with a real opportunity to cross them over into the studio business," Endeavor lit agent Bryan Besser said.

Meanwhile, UTA nabbed writer-director Srdan Golubovic, whose film "The Trap" surfaced as one of the hottest titles at Berlin in February. The Serbian-born talent is the son of Predrag Golubovic ("Peacetime in Paris").

With agents on the hunt for the next Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu or Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, directors employing a signature style like Colombian-born Stathoulopoulos emerged this year as the most sought after.

"PVC-1" depicts the true story of a rural Colombian mother who is turned into a human time bomb after criminals secure a collar made of PVC to her neck. Stathoulopoulos' debut, which cost less than $500,000, used a combination of professional and amateur actors, many of whom were theatrically trained to ensure that an awareness of the precise positioning of the camera throughout the shoot was respected. Because the film was shot in one continuous take, the director had to train for three months so that he could develop the muscles required for the shoot.

As the French shindig enters the homestretch, CAA, ICM and WMA were in danger of leaving the Riviera empty-handed. A CAA spokesperson said, "We don't have anything ready to announce quite yet."

Nevertheless, three helmers -- the Netherlands' Anton Corbijn ("Control"), Romania's Cristian Mungiu ("4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days") and Nadine Labaki ("Caramel") -- were still up for grabs. But according to an agent in the Corbijn sweepstakes, the helmer isn't expected to make a decision until after the festival.

The pursuit of Mungiu however illustrates the lengths agents will go to add a promising director to their roster.

"I was sitting with Cristian Mungiu, and the Hollywood agents just descended on him," said Herbert Schwering, managing director of German production house COIN Film. "They are unrelenting when it comes to someone they want."

Scott Roxborough and Stuart Kemp contributed to this report.

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