The tenth anniversary of the Unifrance Rendez-Vous with French Cinema in Paris will give international buyers the first chance of the year to see the French films on offer from the country's sales companies.
This year, more than 350 buyers and 120 journalists from two dozen countries will make the trip to Paris, keen for a sneak peak at projects away from the intensity of markets such as next month's European Film Market (EFM) in Berlin.
Laurent Danielou, the head of Rezo Films, points out that the event provides a rare opportunity for French sales companies. "Buyers are concentrated only on our films," he says. "For a French film that might get buried in Berlin, it's much better to launch at the Unifrance event."
Vincent Maraval, sales chief at Wild Bunch, agrees. "The Rendez-Vous is the best thing Unifrance does. The buyer has no pressure to buy because it's early in the year so they arrive in a good state of mind."
While big deals are not generally the order of the day, the focus on French films is a big draw for the local industry and international attendees.
According to Enrique Gonzalez, head of acquisitions at Spain's Alta Films, the event's timing allows the sales outfits to showcase their slates for the EFM and enables buyers to catch up with films they may have missed last year.
"I release a lot of French films and this is the 'grande fete' of French cinema. In my line-up, it's important," he explains.
The international press attends the Rendez-Vous to gain access to French talent."It allows the Spanish press to learn about films early and to interview the stars so they are prepared when I release the films later in the year," Gonzales explains.
In a welcome change, the event's market moved last year from its windowless basement headquarters off the Champs-elysees to the Grand Hotel near the Palais Garnier Opera house.
Sales companies will screen premieres of French titles including TF1's Female Agents starring Sophie Marceau, Marie Gillain and Julie Depardieu; Wild Bunch's I Always Wanted To Be A Gangster; and Film Distribution's The Maiden And The Wolves and What If...'.
Wild Bunch has organised a Friday night circus show at Paris' Cirque d'Hiver to showcase Philippe Muyl's Magique! and Unifrance will host opening night cocktails and a gala closing soiree.