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The European film biz hit the slopes this weekend to kick off the third annual Les Arcs European Film Festival in the French Alps.
The fest aims to offer European cinema spanning all genres for a professional and public event that is growing in popularity. Former Festival de Cannes Director’s Fortnight artistic director and now Tribeca’s new artistic director Frederic Boyer is also behind the les Arcs line-up adding some behind-the-scenes star programming power to the event.
More than 60 films from throughout Europe will be screened during the festival this year at the resort’s five movie theaters. Twelve European movies will compete for the Fleche de Cristal (Crystal Arrow) prize including an eclectic mix of Euro fare ranging from Cedric Kahn’s A Better Life to Nick Broomfield and Joan Chirchill’s Sarah Palin: You Betcha! to Ian Fitzgibbon’s Death of a Superhero.
Italian director Michele Placido is presiding over this year’s jury alongside Tonino Benacquista, Josephine de la Baume, André Manoukian, Olivia Bonamy, Thure Lindhardt and producer Marianne Slot. Italy will also be in the spotlight as this year’s country focus with 12 films from the territory set to screen during the festival including classics like Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita or new titles such as Daniele Luchetti’s La Nostra Vita.
Film premieres include anticipated titles from Gaul such as Frederic Beigbeder’s Love Lasts Three Days, Eric Guirado’s Possessions and Audrey-Tatou starrer La Delicatesse from directing duo David and Stephane Foenkinos. Other notable titles premiering at the fest include John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard with Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle, Malgoska Szumowska’s Elles starring Juliette Binoche and Rodrigo Garcia’s Albert Nobbs with Glenn Close and Mia Wasikowska.
Professionals will have quite a lot of activity keeping them from the resort’s winter activities with a Co-production Village bringing together potential financing partners from across the continent. The Co-production village will feature 22 selected European co-production projects and play host to one-on-one meetingd between co-producers, conferences and workshops.
On Dec. 14th, the four-day “D.I.R.E. days” will kick off among DIRE (European Reunited Independent Distributors) members including Wild Bunch, Rezo, Le Pacte, Pyramide among other indie distributors who will show European films to over a hundred exhibitors and journalists.
The mid-December timing of the fest makes it increasingly attractive to both public and professional festgoers. “Les Arcs is before all of the big festivals like Cannes and Venice and there aren’t really any competing fests at the same time of year,” Boyer said. Plus, having a surrounding ski resort doesn’t hurt either. “Everyone who comes here absolutely wants to come back.”
Both professional and public festgoers can take time off from working to enjoy snow-covered evenings courtesy of Parisian nightclub le Favela Chic and daytime distractions in Bourg-Saint-Maurice and les Arcs.
Despite the snow and soirées, Les Arcs isn’t meant to compete with another snowy festival in Park City one month later.
“I wouldn’t say it’s the European Sundance, but the major European companies are here, the co-production village is very interesting and we now have a loyal following after just a few years,” Boyer said. However, Boyer and the Les Arcs festival aren’t looking to compete on Sundance’s scale.“The festival is amicable and intimate – people can actually take time to talk to each other. It’s more important to stay small, but remain concentrated in quality.”
The 2011 Les Arcs European Film Festival runs through December 17th.
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