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Industry / Market - France

Industry Report: Market Trends

Unifrance discusses the challenges of the joint promotion of cinema and audiovisual in Paris


New international strategies, including soft power, support for talent, producers and exporters in all media and digital communication, were analysed in detail

Unifrance discusses the challenges of the joint promotion of cinema and audiovisual in Paris
Co-presidents Serge Toubiana, general manager Daniela Elstner and co-president Hervé Michel, at the Unifrance event (© Philippe Quaisse/Unifrance)

"We must dare, experiment, not rest on our laurels.” One year after its merger (read the news) with TV France International (which accompanied French audiovisual productions worldwide), Unifrance, which previously only managed the promotion of French cinema internationally, unveiled in Paris a progress report on its strategy, detailed by the two co-presidents (still for one year) Serge Toubiana and Hervé Michel, flanked by the general manager Daniela Elstner. Here are some selected excerpts.

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"We need to reach out as best and as widely as possible. For exporters, the good news is the multiplication of distribution channels, but their job is more complex. We also noticed at the recent Marché du Film of the Cannes Film Festival that the platforms are less present than a few years ago on the acquisition front, which shows that they are beginning to be better integrated into the ecosystem. As they no longer necessarily take on world rights, for promotion, there is a lot of work on releases to be done and articulated with them on a case-by-case basis. In terms of promotion, we must not think that cinema and audiovisual work to the detriment of each other. A very good example is the series Call My Agent whose success has brought fame to Camille Cottin and Laure Calamy for example, which Unifrance can use to promote other works.”

"We now have a tool that is much better adapted to the promotion and export of French soft power. There is a new porosity between the cinema and the audiovisual sector, and we need to put up a common front without diluting the specificities of each sector. Because even if this convergence is increasing under the impetus of the platforms, the individuality of the two sectors, which have different models and modes of financing, must be preserved. There are therefore specific bases, but we can now deploy common, cross-cutting actions (especially in documentaries, animation, and genre films such as fantasy) that rely on Unifrance's expertise in supporting artists and producers (especially the youngest among them) on the international scene, which is still very rarely practised in Europe for audiovisual production. There is also a lot of work to be done to coordinate with linear TV channels and platforms (and the latter are interested, especially Netflix and Amazon) in terms of international promotion. But while it is necessary for French production to be present on global platforms and to support its talents, we must also fight against the false idea currently in vogue in the media that cinema is dead, because while cinemas and distributors are weakened in a difficult post-pandemic recovery climate, distributors have not disappeared and they bought many films recently in Cannes.

Unifrance meetings in Paris in January 2023 and in Biarritz in September 2022 (250 buyers expected in the Basque seaside town), meetings abroad with Rome (April 2022), Madrid (June 2022), Berlin (November 2022), New York (March 2022) and Yokohama (December 2022), presence in a myriad of festivals and international markets, various operations (10 To Watch), economic intelligence (with all the world box-office figures for cinema and data from streaming which is improving even if it is still far from perfect because it is unilaterally declarative and presented in a way that is sometimes complicated to decipher), offices in Paris, New York, Beijing and Tokyo: Unifrance is playing on all fronts, but the field of digital communication (the agency having been a pioneer with the creation 12 years ago of MyFrenchFilmFestival) is particularly targeted and among the 2023 projects are the creation of a YouTube channel (with meetings with French artists) and the implementation of a festival in the metaverse inside a video game.

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(Translated from French)

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