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Unifrance launches third edition of online film festival

Curzon On Demand, iTunes, Vudu and good!movies among 19 platforms partnering with festival running Jan 17 to Feb 17 2013

Unifrance and Paris-based cinema portal have unveiled the third edition of MyFrenchFilmFestival.com, their ever-burgeoning online film festival devoted to a selection of recently released French features and shorts.

The expanded festival – featuring ten features and shorts at its core – will run January 17 to February 17, a week longer than last year. 

Having kicked off with some 40,000 film viewings in its inaugural year in 2011, the festival racked up some 1.3 million film streams in its second edition last January.

Titles screening in the competitive feature section range from Djinn Carrenard’s micro-budget Donoma to the mainstream romantic comedy On Air (Parlez-moi de vous) starring Karin Viard as a radio agony art who is unable to put her words into action in her own solitary life.

“This year we’ve expanded the selection beyond the original remit of first and second time films so the selection is a mix of films by young directors as well as more commercial titles which have done quite well at the French box office,” commented Unifrance managing director Régine Hatchondo.  

Shorts include Benjamin Parent’s It’s Not a Cowboy Movie, which premiered in the Cannes Critics’ Week earlier this year, and Franck Dion’s award-winning Edmond Was a Donkey.

The festival will also feature an out-of-competition screening of Georges Lautner’s 1963 French classic Crooks in Clover (Les Tontons Flingueurs) about a retired gangster whose life is turned up side down when he unexpectedly inherits the ill-gotten fortune of an old partner in crime.

Serbian-Canadian director Ivan Grbovic’s feature Roméo Eleven (Roméo Onze) and Eric Morin’s sort Opasatica are also in the selection as a tie-in with Téléfilm Canada.

Awards

For the core selection, there will be four award categories:

  • Jury Award, presided over by Oscar-winning Michel Hazanavicius;
  • Audience Award, voted by Internet viewers of the films;
  • Social Networks Award, voted on by 100 influential film lovers on Facebook and Twitter;
  • International Press Award.

Platform partners

Hatchondo said Unifrance had worked hard this year to increase the number of platform partners, especially in North America.

In total, the festival will be available on 19 platforms worldwide, including for the first time, iTunes, the UK’s Curzon On Demand, Germany’s Good!Movies, Ireland’s Volta, Orange in Poland and Eurocinema and Vudu for North America.

A number of the platforms, she added, had agreed to retain the selection as part of their VoD offering once the festival had ended.

The films will be available in 12 languages and in some territories for free – including China, Poland, Turkey, Russian and Latin America.

Hatchondo noted that for the first time a handful of platforms had paid an upfront fee to be able to diffuse the films to their users for free during the duration of the festival.

Experimental spirit

She added that, for now, the spirit of the initiative was experimental and promotional rather than money making.

“The return for the sales agents won’t be huge – perhaps €8,000 to €10,000 on some of the films –but the main aim is to promote French cinema and experiment with different release strategies as well as learn more about audience habits,” she said.

“We discovered last year, for example, that the average viewing time on the Chinese platform Youku was 60 minutes. It was good to discover they weren’t just zapping,” she added.

Youku, which has since acquired rival platform Tudou, merging with it to create Youku Tudou, will be a partner once again at the upcoming festival. During the last edition, the operator accounted for 1.1 million of the film viewings.

Feature film line-up

  • Early One Morning (De Bon Matin), Jean-Marc Moutout
  • Donoma, Djinn Carrenard
  • The Disintegration (La Désintégration), Philippe Faucon
  • The Pirogue, La Pirogue, Moussa Touré
  • Louise Wimmer, Cyril Mennegun
  • On Air (Parlez-moi de vous), Pierre Pinaud
  • Radiostars, Romain Levy
  • Of Woman and Horses (Sport de filles), Patricia Mazuy
  • Leader Sheep (Tous au Larzac), Christian Rouard
  • A Bottle in the Gaza Sea (Une bouteille à la mer), Thierry Binisti.

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