The worldwide success of films such as the critically acclaimed La Vie En Rose and the thriller Tell No One has whetted foreign appetite once again for French product - but not all of it fits the UK theatrical market.
Vincent Maraval of Wild Bunch, whose The Fox And The Child from Luc Jacquet will be released in the UK this summer, says the number of deals has gone up because "there is competition between several important distributors". He is likely referring to players such as Momentum, Icon and Lionsgate UK.
Camille Neel of Bac Films, which recently sold sci-fi title Eden Log to Momentum Pictures, agrees. "Globally, there is a real interest on the part of the British for French films at the moment." But she adds, "This appetite is essentially for genre or arthouse films - not films you could qualify as typically Franco-French."
Mathilde Henrot, director of sales for MK2, believes UK buyers are becoming more receptive to French films. At Cannes, MK2 sold two completed titles: Olivier Assayas' family drama Summer Hours starring Juliette Binoche to Artificial Eye, and Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy's comedy Rumba to Sound And Motion.
"I have the impression the stereotype (of a French film) is evolving," Henrot says. "Even if it's undeniable a stereotype exists, it's also because it's in the mind of the audiences who are looking for films that correspond to a certain image they have of France."
Still, theatrical sales are not necessarily the anchor of the market. Maraval says the UK video sector is lucrative: "It allows certain more mainstream titles to find their economic life in the UK market, where traditionally there have only been auteur films."
UGC's president Said Ben Said, who sold Philippe Claudel's I've Loved You So Long to Lionsgate UK in Berlin earlier this year, says that even though UGC traditionally does few deals with the UK, with Loved "the UK deal was the first one we did".
Ben Said believes the UK market "is particularly complicated outside of certain auteur films and some that are very commercial." On Loved, UGC did good business everywhere but believes the presence of Kristin Scott Thomas may have spurred the UK sale.
Eric Lagesse, managing director of Pyramide Films, recently sold Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau's Born In '68 to micro-distributor Peccadillo Pictures. However, Lagesse says he is not doing any more deals than usual with UK buyers. "New Wave Films (the company set up by former Artificial Eye executives Robert Beeson and Pam Engel) represents an alternative to Artificial Eye and will help us to sell films but I don't see any more trace of Metro Tartan for example. The others, like Momentum, are too big for me. Peccadillo and Soda work very well but they buy little and don't spend a lot."
Lagesse believes that, like all buyers, UK distributors have a fixed idea in mind of what constitutes a French film. "They all have cliches in their heads but there has to be a little bit of cliche if a film is going to have international success."
For Neel, French film has a reputation as auteur-ish and austere. "Genre films allow us to dust off this old idea because we have really talented directors in this area whose films travel. Yet the in-between films, essentially produced for and by the networks, rarely find a taker."
However, Maraval alone believes UK buyers do not think in stereotypes.
"That's what helps us sell more. They are not blocked by preconceived notions and so give more of a chance to more movies."