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Frontières: Canada and Belgium get together to enhance genre film production

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Stéphanie Trepanier • Frontières Market, Director

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- Canada’s Frontières International Co-Production Market is expanding its activities to Belgium in 2014

Stéphanie Trepanier • Frontières Market, Director

The Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFFF) is joining the Montreal Fantasia International Film Festival to set up the first transatlantic co-production market dedicated to genre films. The Frontières International Co-Production Market, which already took place twice in Canada, is thus expanding its activities to Europe. Its 3rd edition will take place from April 10-12, 2014, as part of the BIFFF. 

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Cineuropa: What are the specificities of the Frontières International Co-Production Market?
Stephanie Trepanier: There are now many international co-production markets around the world. What differentiates Frontières from the others is that it focuses entirely on the genre film industry. Frontières is the first film market to do so for North America and Europe (Pifan's NAFFF, in South-Korea, deals with Asian co-productions). Frontières attendees exclusively or mostly concentrate their production activities on genre film, so there is much less weeding out to be done among the attendees to find the right partners for your project, compared to a wider, more generalist market. Projects are curated among a well-balanced mix of established and up-and-coming talents in genre film. A team of genre films specialists review the submitted projects, ensuring that only the very best are presented within the market. What also sets Frontières apart is that we insist on having a great presence of directors at the market, compared to many others that are producer-only. It's very important for us to keep the film's creative elements at the forefront.

Why a genre film market in Europe?
Genre film has a great tradition in Europe and there are so many bright and talented European genre filmmakers at the moment. Frontières in Montreal is geographically closer to the North-American film industry, while Frontières in Brussels is closer to European filmmakers. This allows us to reinforce the bridge we've been building in-between the two continents and their different ways of making movies.

Why have you chosen Belgium, after Canada?
It was important for us to ally ourselves with one of the best genre film festival in Europe. The Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival is the second oldest in the world, after Sitges. As we know, the Spanish film industry is going through very difficult times at the moment, while Belgium's film industry support system is very healthy. There was no other co-production market happening in Belgium, making the presence of Frontières in Brussels even more pertinent. It's also very fitting that Quebec and Belgium have the French language in common and that both countries have well-established co-production ties.

Who will be the guests and investors present at the market?
In 2012 and 2013, we had an average of 270 accreditations. We expect a surge to about 320 subscriptions this year. Of course, directors and a great number of producers have and will attend, as well as distributors, international sales agents and talent agents. This year, we are concentrating on having much more financiers attend, as well as service companies and post-production studios. We want Frontières to become the one meeting place where you could meet all of your future production partners in a few days.

Which European countries have developed genre films the most?
The Spanish genre film tradition has always been very strong, and extremely successful films came from there in recent years, such as Pan's Labyrinth and the REC franchise. There are some long-standing European genre traditions: Italy made its mark with Giallo films, France with Noir, UK with crime capers. Scandinavia has been coming up strongly in recent years with thrillers and fantastic films based on old myths.

Is the funding structure of genre films very different from a more “classic” film?
In general, it's always been more difficult for genre film projects to access public funding, which are generally allocated to dramas and films for a wider audience. So genre films have had to be made in more independent settings, with smaller budgets, forcing the filmmakers to be much more creative to effectively deal with the limitations. Genre films have also been somewhat slower to adopt the new international co-production models, which is why it was important for us to get in there, to coach producers in its many advantages (many of which can be paramount in making small budgets work) and help them create new business relationships within the international genre film community.

Which challenges are genre films facing?
I think the biggest challenge has been the long-standing institutional snobbism towards the genre, limiting its means. But I think mentalities are changing, thanks in part to the commercial success of many genre films that were made on a limited budget and provided a great return. Many producers and international sales agents want to get in the indie genre film game at the moment. In parallel, when we look at any year's box-office leaders, most of them are genre films made within the American studio system. The genre film audience is international, young, geeky and passionate, they are drawn to the theatrical experience and to the physical ownership, they don't mind subtitles and are driven by creative propositions. With an industry struggling to adapt to the new generation, this is the audience you want to target. I strongly believe we're currently entering a new golden age for genre film and Frontières came about just at the right moment.

(Translated from French)

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