CAA Backs New Film Market With San Sebastian, Zurich Festivals

Courtesy of SXSW Film Festival
'Shithouse' and 'An Elephant in the Room' won this year's SXSW, which was judged virtually after the festival was cancelled.

The September market will feature films from the cancelled SXSW and Tribeca Festivals as well as new sales projects.

CAA Media Finance is backing a new film market jointly launched by the San Sebastian and Zurich international film festivals that will highlight titles selected for South by South West (SXSW) and Tribeca, festivals that were cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Wild Bunch and FilmNation are also backing the initiative, which would see San Sebastian and Zurich host international sales agents, distributors, financiers and buyers left without a platform for their new titles amid the current pandemic.

San Sebastian, which runs Sept. 18-26, and Zurich, Sept. 24-Oct. 4, regularly collaborate on the programming side, sharing top titles and talent junkets. But a film market will be a first for both festivals.

In addition to titles selected for SXSW and Tribeca, the new market will also screen new sales projects.

"If the health authorities allow the festival to go ahead under normal conditions, we want this edition to serve as an opportunity for films unable to screen at the festivals for which they were originally selected to be shown to an audience of buyers and distributors," said San Sebastian festival director José Luis Rebordinos.

The San Sebastian/Zurich market could fill a widening gap in the indie industry's calendar. All the major spring festivals have been cancelled due to health concerns, leaving indie films with nowhere to hold the gala premieres and press junkets so key to drumming up sales interest.

"We live in disruptive times which also shatter the traditional festival landscape and threaten independent cinema," said Zurich festival director Christian Jungen. "Many high-profile titles are orphans of the real premiere their cast and crew deserve. We are therefore delighted to help out by holding screenings for buyers together with our friends of San Sebastian."

It is unclear whether the new market will be a one-off response to the current crisis or if it can establish itself as an addition to the industry calendar.

The need for an alternative festival/market platform will become even more acute should Cannes be canceled. The premier French festival was pushed back from its original dates in May amid coronavirus concerns. Organizers say they still hope to hold the festival at a later date, likely in late June or early July. CAA has proposed setting up a virtual market for new projects should Cannes be cancelled.