Buyers praise transformed Rendez-Vous


The ninth Rendez-Vous with French cinema wound down Monday as European buyers and journalists headed out after four days of screenings, meetings and dealmaking in Paris courtesy of French film promotion organization Unifrance.

For the first time, the event was concentrated at one venue — the Intercontinental Grand Hotel — and buyers, sellers, press and talent alike unanimously agreed that conditions were much improved compared with years past, citing a bigger venue, more space and a market that was generally more structured.

"We wanted to concentrate everything in the same place — the market, press and talent — so that all of the positive energy could unite. We wanted to avoid the time lost moving back and forth from the different venues. It was definitely an effective change," Unifrance general manager Marc Piton said.

Wild Bunch had an action-packed week, with Laurent Tirard's "Moliere" generating massive interest after a Sunday-night screening. Pathe signed for the film in the U.K. and offers are pending in Japan and Russia.

Eric Barbier's "The Snake" also was a favorite among buyers, with offers in place in Spain and Japan and a deal signed with Telepool in Germany. Pierre Salvadori's "Priceless" was another popular title.

Unscheduled market screenings of Francois Ozon's latest big-screen venture, "Angel," attracted numerous offers to seller Celluloid Dreams, while Pathe's "Odette Toulemonde," "Counter Investigation" and "Hunting and Gathering" and TF1's Edith Piaf biopic "La Vie en Rose" also were strongly received by distributors.

StudioCanal was busy with sales of Alain Resnais' latest ensemble hit, "Private Fears in Public Places," to Spain, "The Very Big Apartment" to Russia, Pierre Jolivet's "Je Crois que Je l'aime" to Germany and recent French boxoffice hit "I Do — How to Get Married and Stay Single" to Canada and Scandinavia.

Rezo films had a successful Rendez-Vous, with "Made in Paris" selling in Turkey, Israel and Austria over the weekend. Strong buzz swarmed around the not-yet-screened "2 Days in Paris," Julie Delpy's latest directorial venture. The film already has sold throughout Europe, and Rezo closed deals with Scandinavia, Turkey and the former Yugoslavia over the weekend.

"Aside from the deals signed, the market itself was very active. It was a good warm-up for Berlin," international sales rep Sebastian Chesneau said.

Both buyers and sellers felt the weekend was a success. For companies such as Les Films du Losange, the Rendez-Vous gives more intermediary films a chance to present themselves to buyers who may have missed their debuts at smaller festivals. Christophe de Ponfilly's "The Soldier's Star" and Faouzi Bensaidi's "WWW What a Wonderful World" sold especially well.

"We didn't make many sales this weekend, but it was definitely a good starting point to familiarize our buyers with what we'll have in Berlin," said Mathieu Giblin, international sales executive at MK2.

Gaumont screened Regis Wargnier's "Seeds of Death" Friday night at the Gaumont Champs-Elysees Marignan and threw a luxurious party at the France-Ameriques building to celebrate the star-studded film. Other Gaumont offerings impressing buyers included Julie Gavras' "Blame It on Fidel" and Antoine de Caunes' "Twice Upon a Time," starring Charlotte Rampling and Jean Rochefort.