The selection of new titles on view at Unifrance's fourth Paris screenings, held January 11-15, reflected the upbeat mood currently being enjoyed by the French film industry, not just at home, but increasingly abroad.
Internationally, French films' attendance jumped 122% last year, to some 30 million admissions, according to Unifrance's latest report.
According to Unifrance's president Daniel Toscan Du Plantier, this is the result of a number of associated phenomena. "The world is changing of course, new markets have opened and there is a growing demand for local titles and also for an alternative to US films. A major factor is the remarkable rise in the number of prints on which French films were released."
Unifrance figures show that although the number of French titles released in the seven international territories covered by their research remained stable (at 220 films) between 2000 and 2002 ; the total number of prints they were released on jumped nearly 170% (from 128 to 217).
Philippe Rostain, who heads Gaumont's international sales arm comments: "Foreign distributors are taking more risks, which demonstrates a newfound confidence in the French films' commercial potential. The Crimson Rivers, for instance, was released on some 300 prints in Japan, a record for a French-language title." In 2002, four French films are slated to be released in Japan on over 100 prints.
Unlike 1999, which was also a vintage year for French cinema abroad but which relied mostly on the success of Asterix And Obelix Take On Caesar, 2001 was mainly characterized by the wide-ranging array of successful French titles. The spectrum of hits ranged from comedies like Amelie and The Closet, to thrillers like The Brotherhood Of The Wolf and The Crimson Rivers, to more artsy fare such as Claude Chabrol's Merci Pour Le Chocolat and Francois Ozon's Sous Le Sable.
The Paris screenings rendez-vous, which featured 46 titles, half of them screening for the first time, again reflected this variety. New offerings included further action titles aimed at the younger crowd, such as Gaumont's Le Raid, Pathe's Nid De Guepes as well as Europa's Taxi 3, among others.
StudioCanal's specialty division Wild Bunch, for its part, showed no less than seven trailers, featuring the upcoming work of some of the most intriguing French film-makers, including Gaspard Noe, Cedric Klapisch, Olivier Assayas, Olivier Dahan and Olivier Megaton.