The 33rd edition of the Deauville Festival of American Film will showcase 124 films, including 11 in competition. And for the first time, the festival has added a sidebar entitled American Nights, which will screen 60 films back to back, 24 hours a day, in the French seaside town's Morny cinema.
The festival's artistic director Bruno Barde says the idea was to show films without interruption. "If at 3am you can find images on TV or the internet, in Deauville at 3am there will be films in the theatre."
Barde is financing American Nights through his company, Le Public Systeme, which runs Deauville and other French festivals in Gerardmer and Cognac. He declines to say how much it is costing but estimates the entire festival runs at a cost of about $4m (EUR3m), financed by Le Public Systeme Cinema, sponsors, the town of Deauville and the Groupe Barriere which, among other things, provides luxury accommodation for all guests. French director Andre Techine will preside over this year's competition jury and Deauville is confident of maintaining its position as a harbinger of awards. In the last few years, Deauville prize-winners including Little Miss Sunshine, Half Nelson, Crash and Being John Malkovich have gone on to Oscar glory or recognition.
Barde says that since he tries to select the best of US independent cinema, it is not surprising the films go on to other awards. "Deauville is the moment in Europe where we sum up the artistic state of American film," he says.
The festival is a platform into Europe for both independent and studio fare. Major titles screening out of competition this year include Frank Oz's Death At A Funeral, Judd Apatow's Knocked Up, Tony Gilroy's Michael Clayton, Matthew Vaughn's Stardust, the animation Surf's Up, Paul Greengrass' The Bourne Ultimatum, the Farrelly brothers' The Heartbreak Kid and Andrew Dominik's The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford.
As the festival is so heavily covered by the French media - celebrities attend in full force - films which would otherwise not make much of an impact outside major cities are thrust into the spotlight. Also, the fact many of the films - eight out of 11 this year - arrive at the festival without French distribution is typical. Sales companies often wait to make a French deal until after Deauville, as a good screening there will help drive up a film's price.
Among those representing the US at the festival will be Sidney Lumet, attending for a tribute as well as the world premiere of his Before The Devil Knows You're Dead; Ben Affleck for the world premiere of his directorial debut Gone Baby Gone; Michael Douglas, to support the European debut of opening night film King Of California; and Paul Haggis for In The Valley Of Elah.
COMPETITION FILMS 2007
Dir: Zoe Cassavetes
Int'l sales: Celluloid Dreams
Dir: George Hickenlooper
Int'l sales: Myriad Pictures
For Your Consideration
Dir: Christopher Guest
French dist: CTV International
Int'l sales: Fortissimo Films
Grace is Gone
Dir: John C Strouse
French dist: TFM Distribution
W'wide dist: The Weinstein Company
Ira & Abby
Dir: Robert Cary
Int'l sales: OddLot International
Dir: Bill Guttentag
Int'l sales: Fortissimo Films
Dir: Gina Kim
Int'l sales: TBC
Dir: Jeffrey Blitz
Int'l sales: Picturehouse
Dir: Mitchell Lichtenstein
Int'l sales: The Weinstein Company
The Dead Girl
Dir: Karen Moncrieff
French dist: Sonatine Films
Int'l sales: Lakeshore Entertainment
Dir: Adrienne Shelley
Int'l sales: The Film Sales Company
HITS AND MISSES
How did last year's competition films fare at the French box office'
Several of the films that screened in last year's Deauville competition have yet to be released locally.
Many go into the festival without a distributor, and even those which do have one are often held back from immediate release after the festival to avoid the traditional glut of autumn titles released in France.
Of last year's victorious trio, only Grand Prize winner Little Miss Sunshine was released immediately after its debut at Deauville, grossing more than $7.5m (EUR5.5m) in France.
Jury Prize winner Half Nelson, starring Ryan Gosling, was released in July 2007 and has so far grossed $410,000 (EUR300,000). Best screenplay winner Sherrybaby has yet to secure a French distributor.
Other 2006 titles not to have a French distributor are Paul Fitzgerald's Forgiven, Hilary Brougher's Stephanie Daley, Dito Montiel's A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints and Billy Kent's The Oh In Ohio.
Jason Reitman's critically acclaimed Thank You For Smoking grossed $1.8m (EUR1.3m) tickets when it was released by Haut et Court in September last year.
David Slade's Hard Candy was released the same month by Metropolitan and grossed $545,000 (EUR400,000) - compared with a $3.3m take in the UK.