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“Tradition is completely different”: French business faucets into Russian demand for movies | Information


The presence of Russian distributors at Unifrance’s Rendez-Vous in Paris was a potent supply of dialog eventually week’s gathering as many French sellers proceed to do good enterprise with Russian patrons regardless of an unofficial boycott of the nation since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Russia remained the third largest worldwide territory for French cinema in 2022 with 2.6 million admissions, up 83.4% from 2021, although nonetheless down 14.2% from pre-pandemic and earlier than the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia. The Russian market accounted for €8.7m in income for French cinema, in keeping with Unifrance.

The recognition of French cinema in Russia is nothing new – French movies have sometimes carried out properly in Russian cinemas. Russia was the highest nation for French movies in 2020 and quantity two in 2019 and 2021.

Nonetheless, 87 French movies had been launched in Russia in 2022, greater than any yr in historical past. teen horror Arthur – Malédiction performed in additional than 1,000 cinemas in Russia and Olivier Baroux’s Pure Born Liar in practically 900, French household titles had been standard, led by Hen Hare And The Hamster Of Darkness (600,000 admissions) and Fireheart (400,000), whereas dwell motion The Wolf And The Lion (185,084) was additionally standard.

Most French movies launched in Russia in 2022 had been offered to Russian distributors earlier than the battle started. Whereas main Hollywood studios pulled their movies from theaters virtually instantly, the French movies opened as deliberate.

“Movie show operators in Russia are shedding cash as a result of they do not have sufficient movies,” mentioned Joel Chapron, Unifrance’s former research and markets supervisor for Central and Jap Europe, who’s now affiliate researcher on the College of Avignon and a specialist on Jap European cinema. “They’re disadvantaged of the US majors so they’re making an attempt to supply as many movies as doable to usher in audiences and French movies have at all times carried out properly there.”

For political causes, state-backed Unifrance didn’t prolong official invites to Russian distributors to attend the Rendez-Vous. Sometimes, Unifrance pays for the resort stays for visiting patrons, though not journey.

However given the success of French movies in Russia prior to now yr, a bunch of round 10 French gross sales corporations pooled funds to pay for resort rooms for 12 Russian distribution corporations. Some Russian patrons additionally paid their very own means. Unifrance allowed the Russian distributors to be accredited on the market, whereas emphasizing it didn’t accredit any distributors with ties to the Russian state, or who’re overtly supportive of the warfare.

“We did not ship them the standard invite, however we mentioned that in the event that they had been in Paris, they might attend screenings and are available to the market,” mentioned Gilles Renouard, Unifrance’s director of cinema. “Russia has been a serious nation for French cinema for a number of years, among the many prime three nations in most up-to-date years. It is a long-term relationship and it is not stopping amid the present battle. Russian distributors are very conscious of the warfare that exists and we proceed to work with our loyal companions who aren’t affiliated with the Russian state.”

unifrance govt director Daniela Elstner added: “We firmly imagine within the significance of tradition to convey the values ​​of tolerance, democracy and solidarity that we maintain pricey” and notes that “Unifrance’s purpose is to facilitate the distribution of French movies overseas.”

‘Tradition is completely different’

Nadezda Motina c Arna Media

Moscow-based Nadezda Motina, founder and CEO of Arna Media, is without doubt one of the Russian patrons who attended the Rendez-Vous. She confirmed “life is tough” for Russian patrons however provides “film theaters are nonetheless open and we nonetheless want to indicate individuals that there’s one other world on the market, values ​​aside from propaganda and audiences ought to be educated by way of different cultures.”

In 2022 Arna launched Patrice Leconte’s Maigret starring Gerard Depardieu, garnering 50,000 admissions. Arnaud Desplechin’s Brother And Sister starring Marion Cotillard and Melvil Poupaud was a more durable promote, attracting simply 2,200 viewers.

“The film is darkish in tone. Audiences right here need to escape to a spot the place every thing is sunny,” mentioned Motina.

Motina got here to the Rendez-Vous by way of the joint invitation from the group of French sellers. She was searching for new titles and was screening pre-bought movies reminiscent of Killing Blues (SND), Methods to Survive With out Mother (Studiochannel), hawaii (Different Angle) and Reminiscences of Love (Again Movies).

Notably absent from the Rendez-Vous had been Russian TV delegations on the first annual in-person French TV Screenings. Most channels and platforms in Russia are tied to the state or corporations that France has opted to not do enterprise with within the present local weather.

Nonetheless, in terms of cinema, Renouard says: “Tradition is completely different. We respect the foundations, we respect the place of the French authorities and our nation.”

The French authorities’s finance ministry has made it clear there isn’t any boycott of Russia for the cultural industries. “French distributors can work with Russia and they’re,” defined Chapron.

Renouard mentioned Unifrance appeared on the capital possession of visiting corporations to make certain they aren’t tied to the Russian authorities, just like the coverage of French sellers. “Distributors in Russia are fortunately principally unbiased,” he says.

Among the many accredited distribution corporations had been Capella Movie, All Media, Noviy Movie, Pioner Movie Distribution Firm, VLG. Movie and World Footage.

French sellers mentioned they referred to the signatories of an open letter by Russian distributors condemning the invasion when deciding with whom to do enterprise.

Within the letter, the Russian distributors condemned what they known as “the barbaric warfare in Ukraine” and acknowledged: “We name for reconciliation and an instantaneous cease-fire… Our work isn’t just enterprise, and it is not simply our job. Our work is to create and talk tradition. Our mission is for audiences in Russia to have the ability to watch movies about life in different nations – like Serbia, Thailand, France or Ukraine – and for audiences throughout the globe to have the ability to watch movies about Russia and its individuals.”

Many prime executives at key Russian distribution corporations are now not primarily based in Russia, having moved to the Baltics or Germany. This not solely makes it simpler for them to journey to Paris for the market, but additionally to pay for the movies they’re buying as Russian banks freeze worldwide funds.

Most French gross sales brokers have mentioned they proceed to promote to Russian distributors in order to not punish the nation’s theatrical distributors, native moviegoers and French filmmakers and producers. “There are artists after which there’s every thing else,” mentioned one gross sales agent who requested to stay nameless. “Our coverage hasn’t modified.”

One other mentioned: “Artwork should not be boycotted.”

market dilemma

The stance is consistent with that of the 2022 Cannes Movie Competition and of French tradition usually which has historically separated artists from their private lives or politics.

However not everybody was pleased in regards to the presence of the Russian patrons in Paris final week. Ties to Russia are delicate for greater corporations linked to the French state or with worldwide attain. And a few gross sales executives mentioned they’re “undecided” about promoting to Russia and deliberate to reassess at upcoming markets.

The piracy by Russian audiences of US studio titles, reminiscent of Avatar: The Approach Of Water, and larger French titles is being cited as a purpose for some corporations to start to reluctantly change their stance on promoting legally to distributors. Based on Chapron, there’s a “new type of piracy” in Russia. Not solely are shoppers streaming movies on their very own gadgets, however some cinemas are even internet hosting “preview” screenings of pirated movies

French sellers should not alone in promoting to Russia because the invasion. On the AFM in November 2022, quite a few executives who spoke to display screen mentioned Russian patrons had been pursuing must-have titles “aggressively” because the Hollywood studios’ suspension of theatrical releases creates a deep urge for food for content material.

Russian distributors are additionally more likely to be on the Berlinale and the European Movie Market. The Berlinale mentioned it “staunchly condemns Russia’s ongoing warfare of aggression” however is not going to exclude filmmakers, artists, business representatives or journalists due to their nationality. Like Unifrance, the competition says it is not going to grant accreditations to these working for official nationwide or state-controlled establishments, corporations or media, or for individuals supporting these regimes.

Simply as the subject of promoting movies to Russia was a key matter of dialog and debate at Rendez-Vous, so it’s more likely to be at festivals and markets all through the approaching yr.

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