Boom in French films at Toronto complements the expansion plans of French promotion agency Unifrance.

French cinema is enjoying a boom at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, which hosts a record 41 French films.

French features make up around 15% of TIFF’s lineup, more than any other international market.

The growth complements the expansions plans of French promotion agency Unifrance, according to executive director Isabelle Giordano.

“I want to be more aggressive in giving French cinema a greater presence in the international market place,” Giordano told Screen.

The push includes a greater presence in North America, Asia and Europe at festivals, markets and through new events.

“We want to have a bigger presence at the AFM, the US exhibitors conference Show East and festivals like SXSW, who I am meeting today. In Asia, we see places like Busan as important growth areas.”

“We want to organise more masterclasses at universities in the US, Asia and in Europe,” she continued. “Young viewers don’t see enough French films in the US so this is one way to be more proactive in that area”.

According to Giordano, now is the perfect time to capitalise on a new wave of French commercial features.

“French cinema is powerful at the moment. There are many fresh independent voices emerging such as Melanie Laurent and Mia Hansen-Love while the likes of Luc Besson have played a leading role in inspiring young French directors and making sure French cinema is known for its commercial potential as well as its art-house credentials.

“A film like Cédric Jimenez’s La French – which plays at Toronto - is really a symbol of the new cinema in France.”

That said, Giordano recognises major challenges ahead, not least in the digital sphere: “Getting more French films on VOD platforms is a big big push for us,” she admitted. “We are in discussions with CNC and the French government about this.”

​Bolstering Unifrance’s 35-man team will be former Pyramide executive Yohan Ubermulin who will join this autumn to shore up relationships in the UK, Germany and Italy.

Former Paris Cinema Festival director Aude Hespert joined earlier this year to push Unifrance presence in the US and Canada.