Deauville promotes US indie fare alongside red carpet rollouts of blockbuster titles Taken 2 [pictured] and The Bourne Legacy.

French buyers were reported to be circling Lucy Mulloy’s Una Noche after the Havana-set drama received a warm reception from audiences and the jury at the 38th Deauville American Film Festival this year.

British born, New York-based director Mulloy’s debut feature was awarded the Grand Jury prize at the festival on Saturday night.

“The film created quite a stir among audiences and buyers… We’ve been in regular contact with sales agent Fortissimo over the week.” commented Hédi Zardi of festival organisers Le Public Système, who coordinated the industry events.

For the second year running Deauville laid-on a dedicated buyers’ space, called the Film Corner, and also teamed up with Cannes’ online industry hub Cinando. Some 170 French buyers joined the online Deauville community.

“We’re not trying to set up a full-blown market but rather aid some of the smaller, independent US titles here to find a distributor in France,” says Zardi. “These films can get lost in the fray of the big festivals.”

“We’re open to all distributors, from theatrical to online. We appeal to the smaller distributors who can’t afford to go to Venice or Toronto and don’t get a look-in at Cannes,” adds Zardi. “The big distributors also like to come to catch-up on what they missed at the big festivals as well as meet the producers and filmmakers in a more relaxed, intimate setting.”

French distributors in attendance ranged from smaller players such as Dissidenz Distribution and KMBO to established mainstream outfits Wild Bunch, Le Pacte and ARP.

Last year, KMBO picked up Matthew Gordon’s The Dynamiter and Happiness Distribution acquired Todd Solondz’s Dark Horse after their Deauville screenings.

This year, nine titles arrived in Deauville without French distribution: alongside Una Noche, they comprised Booster, Smashed, California Solo and Francine as well as documentaries The Queen of Versailles, Gazzara, Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis and West of Memphis.

The other key buzz title was Ruskin’s Booster, in large part for the performance of first time actor Nico Stone as Boston-based petty criminal who gets out of his depth in a serious heist. The Queen of Versailles also set the critics alight.

Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild, which was feted doubly on Saturday night with the Grand Prize and the Cartier Revelation Prize, already had a French distributor in the shape of ARP which will release the post-hurricane fantasy on Dec 12.

Beyond the US-indie focused competition, Deauville remains a key appointment for US pictures due to be released in France over the autumn.

The festival pulled off a star-studded final weekend with Liam Neeson and Salma Hayek gracing the red carpet as well as Deauville’s famous beachfront boardwalk for tributes and the French premieres of their latest films.

On Friday night, the high-octane, Istanbul-set Taken 2 made its world premiere to an appreciative audience who clapped every time protagonist Bryan Mills shot a baddie.

Star Neeson, director Olivier Megaton and EuropaCorp’s top brass, who hope this sequel will replicate the $227 million global box office of its predecessor, attended the screening.

Earlier in the day, Neeson told a packed news conference that although the role of big-hearted toughie Mills appealed to the “little boy in him” it was highly unlikely there would be a Taken 3.

“I haven’t got the imagination to imagine what Taken 3 could be. I think it’s the end after Taken 2… unless I give my daughter away,” he said with laugh.

Actress Hayek, in town for the French premiere of Oliver Stone’s Savages as well as a career tribute, revealed she was planning to take a break from acting to focus on other projects after five films in 18 months.

Other French premieres at Deauville included The Bourne Legacy and Ted while Cannes title Lawless also got the red carpet treatment.