“Venice is now on the agenda”
by Birgit Heidsiek
- VENICE 2014: Pascal Diot comments on the wheeling and dealing at the third Venice Film Market
“Venice is now on the agenda of the professionals,” states Pascal Diot, director of the Venice Film Market (VFM), which was attended by around 1,500 industry representatives this year. “We are only inviting decision makers. Therefore, everyone is very pleased because they get a decision right away when they talk to someone.”
At the third Venice Film Market, a number of deals were signed. The star-driven Shakespeare drama Cymbeline by Michael Almereyda was picked up by US distributor Greenhouse Films, while competition entry The Look of Silence [+see also:
film profile] by Joshua Oppenheimer was acquired by Drafthouse Films for the US as well as by I Wonder for Italy. Meanwhile, Melbourne by Nima Javidi was bought by the new Italian distribution outfit Microcinema. Another title that attracted the distributors was Alix Delaporte's Le Dernier Coup de Marteau [+see also:
film profile], which was acquired by Lumière for Benelux and Palace Films for Australia. The Venice Days hit Return to Ithaca [+see also:
interview: Laurent Cantet
film profile] by Laurent Cantet had already been presold in ten countries.
A new initiative at the Venice Film Market was the European Gap-Financing Co-Production Market, where 15 projects were presented that already had 70% of their funding in place. “This is the perfect place where financiers can come on board a production,” underlines Diot. “The project teams had 186 one-to-one meetings.” Among the 65 companies that participated in the European Gap-Financing Co-Production Market were CEOs and managers from Fandango in Italy; Lichtblick Film and Senator Film in Germany; and Agora Film, Cineworx, Frenetic and Xenix in Switzlerland. British companies such as Carnaby International, Creativity Capital and Dogwoof also attended the event, as did various French representatives from Cofiloisirs, the CNC, Coproduction Office, TF1, Diaphana, Films Distribution, MK2, Pathé, Pyramide and Wild Bunch.
“Most of the co-production markets focus on development,” emphasises the director of the Film Market, “while we want to concentrate on the completion and distribution of films.” This is why he launched initiatives such as the European Gap-Financing Co-Production Market, Final Cut in Venice, which shows six works-in-progress from Africa and the Middle East, and the Biennale College, with its three completed films. “We are doing networking sessions in order to help the films find distribution,” Diot points out. “There are so many films produced that most of them stay on the shelves.”
For this reason, the VFM director also launched a new initiative that brings some CICAE exhibitors from smaller countries together with world sales agents so that they can acquire arthouse films for local distribution in their cities. In countries such as Slovakia, Lithuania, Serbia and Tunisia, many arthouse titles are never released theatrically, because they have not been picked up by distributors. “The exhibitors often don’t have direct access to the sales agents,” reports Diot. Even if the world sales companies won’t necessarily make big money with these sales, they can still sell the films better to TV and DVD in these countries. In total, exhibitors from over 20 countries came to this event in Venice to see the trailers of various arthouse films. “That gave the world sales agents the opportunity to trigger some deals.”
Next year, Diot will get a second theatre for screenings at the Venice Film Market. “We had 34 market screenings this year, but unfortunately, I had to decline some requests. Therefore, we will need at least two theatres.” At the VFM, there were also some private screenings of films that are having their official premieres at Toronto. “The distributors were happy that they could already see these films at Venice.”