World still turns for U.S. indies

No sign of slowdown on the international side of Cannes

CANNES -- Most U.S. buyers might be keeping their wallets shut this Cannes, but there is no sign of slowdown on the international side, as sellers -- both U.S. and worldwide -- reported steady if not spectacular business as the Marche du Film wraps up.

International distributors gobbled up U.S. indie product, perhaps as insurance against the potential actors strike.

"Fame," Mandate's "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," Summit's "Disaster Movie" Inferno Entertainment's "The Women" and "Hachiko: A Dog's Story" and Focus Features' "Milk," "A Serious Man" and its untitled Sam Mendes project selling out to most major territories.

"It's been a good market with several territories making a comeback," Kimmel International president Mark Lindsay told THR. Lindsay cited Spain in Europe and South Korea in Asia as upping the buying ante here this year.

Some of Kimmel's bigger deals in Cannes included selling the Pierce Brosnan-starrer "The Greatest" to Deaplaneta in Spain and inking two German deals, selling Katherine Dieckmann's "Motherhood" to Telepool and the thriller "Unthinkable" to Senator.

"A diverse slate is key because not everything works in every territory," Lindsay said. "We did almost exactly the same amount of business this year as we did last year and it's not finished so we are hoping to surpass that."

IM Global's Stuart Ford said buyers were doing "an awful lot of tire kicking" but that sales did pick up after the first weekend -- unusually late for Cannes.

One thing helping the American sellers was the weak dollar, which cut prices for their product internationally. But as the greenback continues to slide, some U.S. companies are also looking to do Euro-based deals.

"We did a deal (for Dror Soref's thriller 'Not Forgotten') with ZDF in Germany in Euros because we think the Euros will continue to be strong and that will generate more dollars for us,'" said Myriad head Kirk D'Amico. Myriad also inked with CIS (Luxor), Canada (Equinoxe), Greece (Audiovisual) and Portugal (LNK) for "Not Forgotten."

The currency issue didn't seem to affect European and Asian sellers, most of whom are flying home with stakes of deal memos under their arms.

William Morris' Un Certain Regard opener "Hunger" struck deals with several territories including IFC in the U.S., Pathe in U.K./Ireland, MK2 in France, Paradiso in Benelux, Lusomundo in Portugal, Video Seven in Greece and to its sister company Icon Distirbuion for Australia/New Zealand.

Parisian sales group Funny Balloons, sold Directors' Fortnight title "Tony Manero" to Network in the U.K., Ripley's Film in Italy, Vendetta for Australia/New Zealand and Imovision in Brazil.

German giant Bavaria Film International racked up multiple sales on Doris Dorrie's "Cherry Blossoms -- Hanami" which went to Canada (Mongrel Media), Brazil (Mostra International de Cinema), India (Allience Lumiere) and Russia (Maywin Media).

TrustNordisk inked multiple deals for Finnish horror film "Dark Floors" to Presidio in Japan and MIG Film in Germany. Presidio also grabbed TrustNordisc's "Night of the Wolf." TrustNordisk lined up multiple sales on "Mammoth," the English-language debut of Swedish director Lukus Moodyson, preselling the title to Benelux (A-Film), Austria (Filmladen), Hungary (Budapest Film) and Switzerland (Filmcoopi).

Swedish sales giant Svensk sold pretty much its entire catalogue to China, with Polybona grabbing all rights to crusader epic "Arn" and HGC snatching horror film "Coldprey" and family entertainment titles "Elias" and "Pettson & Findus" among several other deals.

"It was a good Cannes, especially considering that we didn't have any films in Competition," Svensk intl sales head Karin Thun told THR.

Korean sales group CJ Entertainment sold its buzz title "The Good, the Bad, the Weird" to Splendid in Germany before the film's Wednesday night market premiere. CJ's "Thirst," meanwhile, has sold to France and Greece, with talks under way with the U.K. and Germany.

"For us the market seemed OK," CJ Entertainment senior vp Mike Hyun-Dong Suh said. "We are very happy with the response to 'The Good, the Bad, the Weird.'"