A glance at the geographical composition of the competition of the next edition of the Cannes Film Festival offers some interesting points for reflection.
Of the twenty films selected, 13 are of European origin. France is the most represented country with 4 titles, followed by the United Kingdom and Romania (with 2 titles each), then by Germany, Spain, Belgium, Holland and Denmark, each country with one title.
Outside Europe, three films come from the United States, one from Canada, one from Brazil. Asia is represented by the Philippines (1 title) and South Korea (1 title).
So France is the country with altogether the highest number of titles in competition.
And that’s not all: the presence of our neighbors across the Alps is even more evident from an analysis of the sales companies, seeing as a total of 12 films are sold by French companies, that is 60% of the competition: 4 films for Wild Bunch, 2 films for SBS, followed by Elle Driver, Films Distribution, Gaumont, Memento, MK2 and StudioCanal, all with one film (a thirteenth film could also be attributed to France, “Loving” by Jeff Nichols, sold by Insiders, the American branch of Wild Bunch).
The French film sales companies have not only secured themselves the rights to the national films, but also to a lot of European films (the Belgian film by the Dardenne brothers, the two Romanian films, the Ken Loach film, the Dutch film by Paul Verhoeven, the Danish film by Winding Refn) and two non-European titles (the Brazilian film and the Filipino film).
This is nothing new: exports is one of the French film industry’s leading sectors and is flanked by a solid system of support for domestic cinema, represented by the Centre Nationale du Cinéma (CNC), the promotional body Unifrance, the Foreign Office and the closely-woven “Institut Français” network around the world. The first results for 2015 published by Unifrance (on the occasion of the 18th Rendez-vous with French Cinema) attest to the strong growth of this foreign distribution system: with more than 500 films distributed and over 100 million tickets sold, for the second consecutive year French cinema has sold more tickets abroad than at home and continues to stand out as the most successful film industry in the world after the US.
The average annual turnover is 240 million Euros a year (source: Le livre blanc de l’export, ADEF, Association des Exportateurs de films data), and the element on which we should reflect is that 34% of this turnover is made up of non-French movies, including some Italian features.
Sorrentino’s last three films were sold by Pathé International, Moretti’s last films, apart from “Habemus papam”, were sold by French companies, “Fire at sea” and “Sacro Gra” by Gianfranco Rosi were sold by Doc&Film International, a company based in Paris.
Among the 12 Palmes d’or won between 2001 and today by the French international sales sector, there is Moretti’s “The Son’s Room” (Wild Bunch); among the 10 Golden Lions there is “Sacro Gra” (Doc&Film International); among the numerous Oscar winners there is the “Best foreign language film” for Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty”.
So French exporters have accompanied some Italian arthouse movies on their international career.
According to figures from ANICA [Italian Association of Cinematographic Audiovisual and Multimedia Industries] (Italian cinema exports 206-2010. Quaderni ANICA), half the Italian films produced between 2006 and 2010 were entrusted to sales companies and of these 44% was entrusted to foreign companies, first and foremost French companies.
If an Italian film travels abroad, there is a good chance that it is traveling on the list of a foreign company.
France’s attractiveness is linked to various factors which range from the historic France-Italy co-production relationship to the ability of French exporters to invest with guaranteed minimums that can contribute to the funding of the films. It seems that as soon as filmmakers grow and the commercial potential of their films becomes international, their films slip out of the hands of the Italian companies and move on to the foreigners’ lists.
Whilst on the one hand French exports represent an opportunity for promoting Italian cinema abroad, on the other hand the participation of Italian films (and more) in the turnover of French sales companies contributes to strengthening that country’s industry and, as a consequence, its cinema, into which a part of the exporters’ investments flow.
Cannes/The sales agents for Italian films around the world
Once again this year the majority of Italian films at Cannes will travel around the world with foreign companies: “Like crazy” (Bac Films, France) and “Sweet Dreams” (The Match Factory, Germany) in the Directors’ Fortnight. The Match Factory also handles the foreign sales of “Happy times will come soon” (Critics’ Week). The exceptions are «Pericle » (Un Certain Regard) and “Fiore” (Directors’ Fortnight) which are sold by Rai Com.