Julie Bergeron • Cannes Film Market, member of the US in Progress jury
“The biggest challenge is to make a film that will circulate and find an audience”
- Cineuropa sat down with Julie Bergeron at US in Progress Paris to discuss support for independent film and its future prospects
On Wednesday night, the American film Diverge by James Morrison was awarded the US in Progress Award. Just after the ceremony, Cineuropa met up with one of the jury members, Julie Bergeron, head of industry programmes at the Cannes Film Market. She elaborated on her views on the topic of support for independent film and its future prospects.
Cineuropa: Why are you part of the US in Progress jury?
Julie Bergeron: There is a lot of interest in seeing films from US independents; it is always interesting to look out for films that are made on a low budget and with strong stories. We support the winning producers by offering an accreditation for the Producers’ Network at Cannes to help them to pursue meetings and networking, and hopefully find distribution for their films.
Have you seen any kind of evolution in the selections?
Yes. It seems that they are receiving more and more projects. It is an event that is now well known in the USA and Europe. With the link to Poland and the event happening twice a year, we saw an evolution in the diversity of the projects. This year, the diversity was very strong, with a horror-comedy film, a sci-fi movie and an LGBT romance.
Do you think all of this diversity has a place in the next Producers’ Network?
Yes, of course! We welcome 200 producers at the Breakfast Meetings every morning in Cannes, and they come from all over the world. It is a place where they wish to connect with sales agents, financiers and potential partners to network and discuss their projects. The idea is specifically to support producers who want to connect with the international market. That is the biggest challenge for every filmmaker: to make a movie that will attract a larger audience than in its own country.
Do you see any similarities between American and European independent films?
They are different because in Europe, there is a lot of public support for films, and there is a strong tradition of the author-driven movie. In the US, the independents have to find private financing for the films. Plus, they don’t have access to any co-production, because there are no co-production treaties in the US, whereas in Europe, the movies can access funding from many territories. The US independents are very much on their own when it comes to financing their films.
What kind of qualities was the jury looking for in the winning film?
We had a lot of discussions; the stages of the presented films were not the same. Diverge is the one we found to be the most advanced: it is a low-budget film, and the story – while there is some work still to be done – is really there. There are a lot of genre-film festivals, and hopefully the movie will travel. And also, I think that a young audience driven by sci-fi and genre would like it.
Do you think such an event should be created for European films in America?
I’m not sure; it would be difficult… If a European film does not find a sales agent in Europe, it might be difficult to find one in the USA. The movie would need to have a strong “American” sensibility… There are some work-in-progress (WIP) experiences in Latin America, and they work well. But in Latin America, they don’t have a lot of sales agents; they have to show their films anyway to break through, as they have no alternative. Europeans are more reluctant to show a film that is not yet finished, especially those who are in countries with a strong production capacity. Now the market goes really fast, the windows for the films are getting smaller and smaller, and you have to be sure whenever you show the film that it is the best way to present it to professionals… But wait… I’m not saying that such an event shouldn’t exist!
How do you see the future of the independent film industry?
I think there will always be filmmakers making films independently because it’s a strong medium for expression. In fact, it’s the strongest: you have the sound, the image, the music, the story… You have everything!
Who will be financing them?
Well, you still have strong companies! My hope is that companies that own the distribution platforms, like VoD players, Netflix and all these people, will start investing in the creation process. Canal+ in France takes part in the financing, so if we can bring these “pipes” to invest in the content, then we have a chance, and they are starting to do so, slowly. But it is going to be increasingly driven by big audiences. The pressure there for the kind of independent films that we saw at US in Progress is enormous. If these small films are not picked up by a big festival and noticed by the industry, their chances of finding distribution are tiny.
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