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"It’s quite unpredictable: that’s what I love about this job"

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Eric Lagesse • Exporter

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- Eric Lagesse talks about Pyramide International’s line-up at the EFM of the Berlinale and gives us his take on current market trends

Eric Lagesse • Exporter

As the European Film Market of the 67th Berlinale (9-19 February 2017) draws near, Eric Lagesse, a key figure and fine connoisseur of big international markets, talks about the gems in Pyramide International’s line-up and gives his point of view on a few market trends.

Cineuropa: The Wound [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
by John Trengove will open the Panorama section of the Berlinale after having its premiere at Sundance. What’s the advantage of this type of twofold exposure for a seller
?
Eric Lagesse: It gives the film greater visibility and makes buyers want to see it more, above all if the buzz and press articles are good, which was the case for The Wound. We already have three offers from the United States and we’re currently reflecting on who to go with. It’s a film about a rite of initiation for a tribe in South Africa, where 17-18-year-old teenagers head off into the mountains to be circumcised, and must stay there for several days without drinking, eating or sleeping, with their tutor who guides them.

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Your line-up includes a large number of films that will soon be ready for release, including lots of feature films by young French filmmakers. Why have you kept your faith in this type of film, which your competitors seem to be markedly more cautious about? ?
Because what I’m interested in is the directors. I love arthouse film and the way I see it, my job is about clearing the ground for and discovering new talent. We have at least seven debut films going into 2017, such as Bloody Milk by Hubert Charuel (see article), The Party is Over by Marie Garel Weis (see article) and After the War by Annarita Zambrano (article), as long as various second films: The Consolation by Cyril Mennegun, who made Louise Wimmer [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, A Violent Life
by Thierry de Peretti (see news article), or, on the European side of things, Giants Don't Exist by Spaniard Chema Rodriguez, the first edit of which should be with us any day now. With first films, you take the risk of not knowing the director and not knowing what they’ll pull out of the bag, but these films are also less risky on the financial plane than very big films. Nonetheless, we’re also selling Rainbow by the Taviani brothers, who have just filmed a love story set during the Resistance and are anything but young directors, and Numero One by Tonie Marshall (see article), a big production starring Emmanuelle Devos which broaches the fascinating subject of the place of women in business.

Your line-up also features several documentaries.
There’s a real passion for good documentaries which is becoming increasingly visible at festivals, which filters through to the competitions and sometimes even results in a documentary being crowned the winner. Our line-up includes Shanghai Youth by Chinese director Wang Bing, which will be ready in time for Cannes or Venice, Plot 35 by Eric Caravaca, which takes a closer look at his older sister, who died at the age of three before he was born, and Nothingwood by Sonia Kronlund, a very upbeat film about an actor/producer/director who’s very well-known in Afghanistan but totally unknown elsewhere, and makes B movies with various odds and ends, saying "here, we don’t have anything, so it’s not Hollywood, it’s not Bollywood, it’s Nothingwood."

What are the current market trends?
Every six months, we have to update our specifications. It’s the films we have coming in that make the market and change things. Even more so with first films, as it’s very difficult to try and work out which will do very well and which will be a flop. Sometimes, you place a film on the market and it opens doors everywhere – everyone loves it and everyone buys it. Obviously when you have a new film by a great director who everyone loves, it’s not very difficult to sell. That’s easier to predict, but otherwise it’s all rather unpredictable: that’s what I love about this job.

What do you think about the purchase of debut French features by platforms, as Netflix did at Cannes?
Selling them films by directors who have already made a name for themselves and whose work is released in various countries would be ridiculous! On the other hand, when you have a film that it won’t be easy to sell, it’s perhaps worth taking the money. If they come with €1 million, I don’t know who would refuse and opt to sell the film territory by territory instead. Is it a real trend? It’s a very murky issue. We never really know the reasons for their choices, their decisions to buy certain films over others, and the prices. And if there were no more platforms like that, there wouldn’t be a need for sellers anymore: producers could deal directly with them. And films wouldn’t be released in theatres anymore, which is not really the idea! Moreover, I’m not sure that this phenomenon will last for long as it’s also possible that platforms will start to move towards the idea that "at the end of the day films shown in theatres aren’t profitable, we’re no longer interested and prefer to make our own series."

(Translated from French)

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