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Oysters at 2,000 meters

Some impressive pitching…and shucking…at Les Arcs.

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The Les Arcs European Film Festival and Co-Production Village added another draw to its third edition — a section of seven films presented as works in progress. The films, all in post, have no sales company or few distributors attached, and producers and directors were able to show up to 10 minutes of footage to the industry attending Les Arcs.

The event was so enticing that several dozen attendees headed on the cable car to Les Arcs 2000 for a scarily early 9 am start on Sunday morning (many with headaches from the late night antics of the festival opening on Saturday night).

The projects pitched were: Iram Haq’s Where No One Lives (Norway); Miguel Angel Jimenez’s Chaika (Spain); Matyas Prikler’s Fine, Thanks (Slovakia); Szabolcs Hajdu’s The Gambler (Hungary); Kadija Leclere’s The Bag Of Flour (Belgium); Daniele Cipri’s E Stato Il Figlio (Italy) and Baltasar Kormakur’s The Deep (Iceland).

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The strongest buzz came for The Deep, based on a remarkable true story of a man who survived inhuman conditions after an Icelandic shipwreck (see earlier Screen story here); Belgian-Moroccan personal drama The Bag of Flour; the compelling Slovakian three-narrative project Fine, Thanks; and the extremely stylishly shot E Stato Il Figlio, about a family who work the shipyards in Southern Italy — director Cipri has served as DoP for films such as Vincere.

After spending a few hours in a darkened cinema, the attendees went outside onto a snow-covered patio, bright with sunshine, for wine, cheese and… oysters. A bit jarring to see shucking at 2,000 meters in the Alps, but the oyster eaters among us were keen. The idea came from Les Arcs artistic director Frederic Boyer, who thought it would offer an unusual culinary contrast on the slopes. It could prove to become another signature (alongside the slalom competition happening Monday) that brings devoted executives to Les Arcs year after year. And for apres-ski purists, raclette will be on offer tonight.

Boyer says he hopes to expand the Works In Progress offering at Les Arcs in 2012.

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