Heritage festival spearheaded by Thierry Fremaux bumps up industry presence.
Thierry Fremaux’s cinema heritage-focused Lumière Film Festival in the French city of Lyon kicked off its inaugural Classic Films Market (CFM) on Wednesday, dubbing it the first event of its kind in the world.
“When we started the festival five years ago we focused on the films, the artists and the public. Now that’s working well, we’re turning our attention to the professionals without which the increased interest in classic films would never have occurred,” Fremaux, who swaps his Cannes artistic director duties for the Lumiere festival in the autumn, told ScreenDaily.
The festival, running Oct 14-20, opened on Monday with a gala screening of the 1962 comedy A Monkey in Winter (Un singe en hiver) in honour of its now 80-year-old star Jean-Paul Belmondo, who was in the audience alongside festival guest of honour Quentin Tarantino and French actress Claudia Cardinale.
Fremaux hopes the new market initiative, running Oct 16-18, will help solidify the growing heritage cinema sector.
“We’re bringing together all those working in the classic films sector: rights-holders, distributors, DVD/Blu-ray labels, documentary makers, broadcasters, VoD platforms and even laboratories,” he continued.
“The idea is to demonstrate firstly that such a sector exists, in France and internationally.”
In total, some 150 professionals have signed up for the event.
Companies in attendance include US Blu-ray label Twilight Times, a number of sales and distribution outfits such as UK’s Park Circus, German Goldwater Media, Austrian Europe’s Finest and France’s Gaumont, Carlotta Films and Tamasa Distribution as well as cinema heritage documentary producer Nocturnes Productions.
They are joined by a slew of institutions including the pan-European state archive collective Lost Films, the French National Audiovisual Institution (INA) and Italy’s Bologna Cinematheque.
“Thierry has been very supportive of Park Circus and we have been involved in the festival since the beginning… the market feels like a natural progression,” said Park Circus managing director Nick Varley.
“Of course, we hope we will sell some films but I am also going to meet up with my colleagues in the classic film business… it’s great that we’re getting a forum where we can all sit down and discuss what is going on in the market.”
The company, which represents 15,000 classic films titles on behalf of studios and libraries worldwide, has 18 films screening at the festival, providing the films for a Hal Ashby retrospective (including Shampoo, The Last Detail and Harold and Maude) as well as several of Tarantino’s pictures.
Park Circus, which opened a satellite office in Paris last year, has also taken a stand at the market.
Alongside an exhibition space featuring a dozen stands, there will be a series of discussions on the market for heritage films.
The programme kicks off Wednesday afternoon with a discussion entitled “The New Economy of Classic Cinema”.
There will be a distributors meeting on Thursday at which the participants will present their catalogues and upcoming releases.
“We want to analyse the state of the market as well as the technological evolution that has occurred due to digitisation in several markets, notably those of France, Italy and the US,” said Fremaux.
“France is very active on the digitisation front but we see that many countries around the world are also digitising their cinema collections…
“We’re really happy, for example, to have representatives from Shochiku come from Tokyo because they’re interested in the sector.”
Past has a future
According to data collated by France’s National Cinema Centre, there were 162,000 screenings of heritage films in France in 2012, for a total box office of €32.7m ($44m)
“All this is great because it means the cinema of the past has a future,” commented Fremaux.
The Lumiere Festival continues until Sunday (Oct 20). Upcoming highlights include a screening of a restored version of The Deer Hunter in the presence of director Michael Cimino, ahead of its release in France by Carlotta Films on October 23, and The Seventh Seal attended by actor Max von Sydow.