Agathe Valentin • Sales Agent
Les Films du Losange heading for the Croisette
by Fabien Lemercier
- Two titles in competition and one in Un Certain Regard for the line-up presented by Les Films du Losange in Cannes. Encounter with sales director Agathe Valentin
With two contenders for the Palme d’Or at the 66th Cannes Film Festival (from May 15th to 26th, 2013), Michael Kohlhaas by Arnaud des Pallières (article) and Grisgris by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun (article), the line-up of Les Films du Losange promises a lively Film Market, one year after the huge success of Love [+see also:
interview: Michael Haneke
film profile] by Michael Haneke on the Croisette. Encounter with Agathe Valentin, international sales director of the company directed by Margaret Ménégoz.
Cineuropa: How did Michael Kohlhaas [+see also:
interview: Arnaud des Pallières
film profile] and Grisgris [+see also:
film profile] arrive in your line-up?
Agathe Valentin: We often work with Serge Lalou and Les Films d’Ici, which produced Michael Kohlhaas. The film is a rather modern adaptation, in France and in French, of a short story by the German novelist Heinrich von Kleist. The actors are excellent (Mads Mikkelsen, Denis Lavant and Bruno Ganz) and the topic of a man fighting for justice is very powerful. We already chalked up a good many pre-sales solely on the strength of Mads Mikkelsen’s name, because everyone adores him and there is already a great deal of curiosity surrounding the film from distributors all around the world. As for Grisgris, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun and his producer Florence Stern (Pili Films) wanted to work with us and we felt the same way. I find Grisgris more accessible, more open even than Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s previous films. It is the story of a young man who was born disabled because of an atrophied leg; he wants to live a normal life and dance in bars to make money. How can you overcome this kind of handicap, in Africa, when you are very poor?
You are also selling L’inconnu du lac [+see also:
interview: Alain Guiraudie
film profile] (article), which has been selected for Un Certain Regard?
Alain Guiraudie, who was pretty much a fixed asset in the Directors’ Fortnight (The Old Dream That Moves in 2001, No Rest for the Brave in 2003, The King of Escape [+see also:
film profile] in 2009), is moving up to the Official Selection for the first time. The film is Guiraudie at his best, true to himself, and very interesting from a cinematographic point of view with unity in terms of location, as everything happens around a lake. It is a story that revolves around the question of knowing how far to go between a desire for love and the fear of death. It is also something of a thriller because there is a murder, a policy enquiry, a man attracted to a murderer and sexual tension around this lake.
What are the other titles in your line-up for Cannes?
We will continue our sales of La maison de la radio [+see also:
film profile] by Nicolas Philibert. Then we have 1001 Grams by Norwegian director Bent Hamer (news) which will begin filming in June. We will also be launching the pre-sales of Arrête ou je continue by Sophie Fillières (with Emmanuelle Devos and Mathieu Amalric in the cast – article), a director with whom we have worked before, in line with our desire to stay loyal to our filmmakers.
Unlike other international sales companies, you have always favoured a narrower line-up. Why?
We would rather be demanding in our choices. We are a small team and we work for the long run. We do not want to do a botched job just to move on quickly to another film. Today, this is not always easy as buyers take their time when choosing a film. But there is a slight recovery and the market is slowly coming out of the stagnation we witnessed a year or two ago, when everything was completely frozen. Currently, buyers want and need films, except of course in badly hit countries like Spain.
Is it still possible to sell author films successfully without an impressive cast?
A film needs a cast or awards, or at least something to develop a marketing strategy around it. Today, distributors need to see the finished film. Michael Kohlhaas is, however, a counter-example because we had a very good screenplay and a very well-known actor, so we were able to do pre-sales. Some territories are very competitive, such as Switzerland for example, because its distributors pre-purchase films as they have to synchronize with France for the release date. In contrast, other territories like Scandinavia systematically wait to see the films once they are finished. But we have our favourite distributors. We share the same tastes and they trust us.
Is the market in Cannes vital for European companies like yours, specializing in quality author cinema?
It depends. The Match Factory, for example, is maybe more centered on Berlin. But for us, Cannes is essential. It is the most important festival because everyone gets together here. Even if we have fewer films in one particular year, we still develop our best contacts on the Croisette.
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