"Triggering word of mouth"
by Fabien Lemercier
- The international sales manager for Films Distribution explained us her company’s commercial strategy concerning Va, vis et deviens
The international sales manager for Films Distribution told us about the sales already completed and explained her company’s commercial strategy concerning Radu Mihaileanu’s film.
Cineuropa: How did you work on this very original film?
Didar Domehri: We intervened very early, taking advantage of last year’s Cannes Film Festival to distribute the script, showing the first takes in Toronto. The script got very good reception, so the first sparks had already been lit when the film was finally ready to be screened in Berlin. Radu Mihaileanu already had a very good reputation since Train de vie, so we had a good basis to work on, which is not the case for a first feature by an unknown director. We could sell the film in advance, on the basis of the script, to Canada, Australia, New-Zealand, and Spain (Golem Distribución). Other buyers loved the script but waited to see some images to reach an agreement. So it all went crescendo, starting with sales from the script, then from the promo reel, sales which were confirmed when the film was screened.
It is not an easy film to manage because the members of the cast are not famous at the international level. Yaël Abecassis is very famous in Israël, and she is known in other countries since Amos Gitaï’s Kadosh, but Roschdy Zem is not so well-known internationally speaking. Besides, the main character is a little black boy and the topic, the Falasha Jews in Israel, is uncommon. It surely is an original subject but it is quite a venture to use it to attract spectators. The fact that we started working on the film very early made it possible to fill the theatres when it was finally screened ; we created expectation. In Berlin, there were a lot of interesting movies in competition and Live and Become was not part of them —it was the opening screening of the Panorama section though— and of course, buyers have to see all the official candidates first, so our film had many ‘rivals’. But we had aroused some expectations by triggering word of mouth; the most important buyers were there and they knew the film was something not to miss.
How many international sales have you completed so far for Live and Become?
We have sold the film to nearly 25 countries, including Great-Britain and Ireland (Content), Germany (Telepool and Delphi for cinema theatres), and Scandinavia (with the Finnish company F.I.P. Future Film). The film was also sold to Switzerland, Hungary (Budapest Film), Rumania (Independent), Austria, Turkey (Bir Film), and Italy (Medusa Film). Prooptiki Prooptiki bought the rights for Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, and ex-Yugoslavia. As for Latin America, Art Films signed for Brazil, and so did TC Video Distribution Company for Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Chile. Ciné&TV&Video got the rights for Mexico and Central America. Negotiations with the United-States are still in process.