A Rendez-Vous in Paris

French market grows in 10th year

French cinema, and not its president, will be in the spotlight this weekend as the 10th Rendez-Vous with French Cinema unspools in Paris.

With 350 foreign distributors descending on the French capital for the event, which kicked off Thursday and runs through Jan. 13, Unifrance is hoping this year's new crop of market titles will result in territory deals being sealed even before next month's European Film Market in Berlin.

"The diversity of French films presented at the Rendez-Vous is more and more vast," Unifrance President Margaret Menegoz told The Hollywood Reporter. "The Rendez-Vous is no longer just a big market for finished films. It's become a rendez-vous for future projects as well — script exchanges, discussions about the next films of certain directors — that's very important."

Titles expected to stir up this year's market include Gerard Depardieu and Alain Delon-starrer "Asterix at the Olympic Games," sold by Pathe International. TF1 International is hoping Jean-Paul Salome's World War II epic "Female Agents," with Sophie Marceau, will spark interest among buyers and also is hoping that Tonie Marshall's "Off and Running" will be just that thanks to an all-star cast that includes Nathalie Baye and Edouard Baer.

Films Distribution will screen Gilles Legrand's family drama "The Maiden and the Wolves" as a gala premiere Friday night and also is bringing Lea Fazer's "What If…?" and Nicolas Boukhrief's "Cortex" to the market for the first time.

Roissy Films has high hopes for its recently acquired "Perfect Match," starring Carole Bouquet and Marc Lavoine. The film has sold 300,000 tickets in Gaul since it's Dec. 12 release and continues to attract audiences on more than 150 screens.

Gaumont is premiering its national January release "Widow at Least," Isabelle Mergault's follow-up to last year's breakout hit "You Are So Handsome," as well as literary adaptation "Darling" and sci-fi epic "Two Worlds."

Wild Bunch is placing its bets on Luc Jacquet's children's film "The Fox and the Child," which started off strong at the Gallic box office when it opened at the top of the charts Dec. 12 and continued to sell 466,000 tickets during its first week of release. Wild Bunch also is hoping fellow animated film "Go West: a Lucky Luke Adventure" will sell well internationally.

High-profile talent expected to attend include Charlotte Rampling, Laetitia Casta, Nathalie Baye, Benoit Magimel and Jean Dujardin. Famous filmmakers Barbet Schroeder, Claude Chabrol, Catherine Breillat, Francois Ozon and Claude Lelouch also will be in town promoting their most recent projects.

The event will wrap with the Lumiere awards ceremony at the Hotel de Ville, then a dinner with the Paris Mayor and a lavish 10th anniversary fête planned aboard a boat cruising along the Seine.

"It's a real success story," Menegoz said of the increasingly popular event. "The concept is a good one — we invite foreign distributors to see only French films, invite journalists to Paris so that they have the time they want with talent — there's nothing else to be done. The Paris Rendez-Vous simply works."