Charlotte Rampling and Maria de Medeiros are among a number of European actors who have been approached to be recruited as “godmothers” to promote the work of the Eye on Films (EoF) network which was launched at the beginning of 2011.

Speaking in Brussels at the first EoF Screenings, general manager Loic Magneron [pictured] explained that “the idea is to have well-known actors with a vision of independent cinema in order to attract wider media coverage about EoF and help festivals and distributors.“ Actor-director Jean-Marc Barr has already been confirmed as a godfather, and discussions are also being held with actors Bruno Todeschini and Marie Kremer to become EoF ambassadors.

In a distribution forum during the Screenings, Magneron and project coordinator Camille Rousselet reviewed the first nine months of EoF’s work to promote the circulation of first features in its network of festivals and distributors in Europe and third countries.

The initiative, which was backed by the European Union’s (EU) MEDIA Mundus programme with €200,000, had started with 16 distributors and 15 festivals and has since grown to 30 distributors guaranteeing potential theatrical releases in 25 countries and 40 festivals guaranteeing potential circulation in 26 countries.

The newest members of the EoF network are French distributor KMBO and Tarifa’s Festival de Cine Africano.

According to Rousselet, 116 first features were submitted by producers and rights holders to become part of the EoF label, with 45% coming from Western Europe, 32% from non-EU, 14% from Eastern Europe, and 9% from the US.

So far, nine European and non-European titles were selected in EoF’s first nine months: Ryan Redford’s Oliver Sherman, Nadav Lapid’s Policeman, Bartosz Konopka’s Fear Of Falling, Halkawt Mustafa’s Red Heart, Rafael Lewandowski’s The Mole, Morteza Farshbaf’s Mourning, Helene Lee’s The First Rasta, Tawfik Abu Wael’s Last Days In Jerusalem, and Anne Emond’s Night #1.

In addition, co-writer-directors Cagla Zencirci and Guillaume Giovanetti’s first fiction feature film Noor, which was shot in Pakistan with support from the EU’s MEDIA Programme and may premiere at February’s Berlinale, could become the label’s 10th title.

Magneron suggested that next year might see between 15-20 films selected for the label “so that festivals and distributors would have a wider choice of titles to choose from,“ and expressed his amazement that EoF’s distributor partners “were committed to acquiring one or two titles a year without knowing whether they would get MEDIA Mundus support or not.”

According to EoF’s business model, its distribution partners can receive up to 50% of the P&A costs for the release of one of the EoF label films, non-European distributors receiving the support for the release of a European film, and European distributors for the release of a non-European film.

Likewise, EoF’s festival partners can be allocated financial support towards the costs of screening titles of the EoF label up to 50% of the overall costs.

Meanwhile, Magneron explained that 5% of all gross receipts generated by the sale of an EoF film to an EoF distributor is automatically transferred to the Eye on Films Fund. The income accumulated here would be used, among other things, to support the promotion of the EoF label, the participation of EoF films at EoF festivals, the organisation of workshops for EoF members or their participation in other events, and the development of EoF directors’ upcoming projects.

In his review of EoF’s first nine months, Magneron admitted that other sales agents had been “quite reluctant“ to submit their films for inclusion in the label; so far, all of the films on offer are handled internationally by Magneron’s own sale outfit Wide Management or the documentary arm Wide House.

Therefore, this would be a priority area in the coming year to attract titles from other sales companies as well as further extending the EoF network of distributors and festivals.

In addition, EoF would be looking to build on existing cooperations with  Eurimages, Europa Distribution and Liege-based XDC by developing partnerships with such professional networks as CICAE, Europa Cinemas, EAVE, and ACE as well as film markets and forums including CineMart, CineLink and the Paris Project.

During the Screenings, Magneron signed deals on two of the EoF titles: French Canadian Anne Emond’s intimate study of a one-night stand Night #1 was sold to Spanish distributor Luis Bellaba’s Aquelarre Servicios Cinematograficos and was the  subject of “serious negotiations“ with Marc Guidoni of France’s Fondivina Films. Meanwhile, Iranian director Morteza Farshbaf’s Mourning – the winner of the NETPAC Jury Award at last month’s Black Nights Film Festival – was picked up by Hungarian distributor Endre Venczel of Anjou-Lafayette who is releasing another EoF title Policeman in Hungary this week.

The EoF Screenings in Brussels were attended by several festival-distributor partners including Sarajevo Film Festival, Lithuania’s Kaunas International Film Festival, Wroclaw’s New Horizons Association, Kiev’s International Film Festival Molodist as well as
distributors Cinéfile (UK), Aquelarre (Spain), BrunBro (Belgium), Fondivina Films (France), and Anjou-Lafayette (Hungary), and the
Paris-based arthouse exhibitor network CICAE.