Nothing." That's what Film London's head of international Helena MacKenzie says has changed in plans for this year's London UK Film Focus (Luff). The sales event runs June 30-July 3.
Some might see the decision to keep the event in the same form as last year as a sign of complacency. For British sales agents, though, Luff (now in its fifth year) seems to work in its current guise - and so, they reason, why change it' By the organisers' own calculations, more than $3m worth of deals were done last year on titles at least partly as a consequence of Luff.
"There is a big argument to be made with any film-maker as to how they would like their film to be seen," says High Point's Carey Fitzgerald, who compares a market premiere in a back street cinema in Cannes to the splendour of London's BFI Southbank (where Luff is held) just a month later. "[Film-makers can be swayed that the BFI's] NFT 1 has the best facilities available and all the buyers for this type of film in the same room at the same time."
A relaxing affair
Almost 50 British films will be screening to more than 160 international buyers over the three days of this year's event.
The buyers - who include the likes of Europacorp, Filmax, Eagle, Miramax and Magnolia, as well as the studios' local representatives - may sometimes grumble about the variable quality of the premieres. (Some say they'd like "to see bigger and better films".) Nonetheless, they clearly relish attending an event that is held in an atmosphere that is both relaxed and concentrated. The sellers, meanwhile, enjoy having the distributors as a captive audience. As industry veteran Penny Wolf, who recently launched The Film Consultancy Partners, puts it: "The main problem with Cannes is that everybody is rushing around. At least at Luff, there is the chance for distributors to come and spend three or four days. You get to spend quality time with them."
Wolf will be attending Luff on behalf of Target Entertainment, whose new Pete Travis film Endgame has just finished principal photography. She points out that the June dates provide a useful boost before "the quiet period over July and August when there is nothing going on. At least, you have an extra month of activity."
Luff has three main funders - Film London, the UK Film Council and UK Trade and Investment. All three have been involved from the outset in the event, which costs around $400,000 (£200,000) to stage.
London's former mayor Ken Livingstone was hugely supportive of film-related events like Luff and the new Production Finance Market during the Times BFI London Film Festival. But he was recently voted out of office and replaced by a Tory, Boris Johnson. "It's too early to tell," Mackenzie says of the new administration's likely plans for supporting film in London.
"It's very early days," agrees Adrian Wootton, CEO of Film London. However, the signs are that Johnson's administration will continue to support events such as Luff, which showcase the capital city, promote business and provide a boost to local film-makers. Wootton points out that Johnson's election manifesto referred to the value of the creative industries in London.
The decision of the Edinburgh International Film Festival to shift dates to June (18-29) has obvious implications for Luff. On the one hand, there will be buyers who will now attend both events. On the other, Luff's prestigious "premiere" screenings may be weakened.
Certain British titles that may once have been screened to buyers at Luff are now likely to surface first at Edinburgh. "If the UK distributor decided that Edinburgh was a good festival for a film, that could scupper your Luff premiere," High Point's Fitzgerald notes.
Films screening to buyers for the first time include Noel Clarke's Adulthood (sold by Independent), thriller Abraham's Point (sold by Moviehouse) and High Point's family drama Shadows In The Sun, directed by David Rocksavage and marking the comeback of British screen legend, Jean Simmons.
Riding the Cannes wave
Alongside the premieres, this year's event will be showcasing British films that generated the biggest buzz in Cannes, among them Terence Davies' Of Time And The City (sold by HanWay) and Icon International's IRA prison strike drama Hunger by Steve McQueen.
Meanwhile, the Breakthrough sidebar, which introduces British talent that do not yet have sales agents, features North Star Productions' Charlie Noades RIP, directed by Jim Doyle; and Lesley Manning's The Agent, a comedy from Pinter & Martin, with William Beck, Stephen Kennedy and Maureen Lipman. There will also be footage screenings of (among others) ContentFilm's Princess Ka'iulani and The Daisy Chain and Odyssey/Ealing's Easy Virtue, directed by Stephan Elliott.
First Industry Screenings (premieres)
Dir: Noel Clarke
(44) 20 7257 8734
Dir: Wyndham Price
(44) 20 7836 5536
Shadows In The Sun
Dir: David Rocksavage
Sales: High Point
(44) 20 7424 6870
Hush Your Mouth
Dir: Tom Tyrwhitt
(44) 20 7287 0050
Love Me Still
Dir: Danny Hiller
Sales: Jinga (44) 20 7287 0050
Dir: Nina Mimica
Sales: Visual Factory
(44) 20 7499 7544
Dir: Lee Hutcheon
Sales: Aspect Film
(44) 20 7625 7796
Dir: Bob Phillips
Sales: Aspect Film
(44) 20 7625 7796
Dir: Stephan Elliott
(44) 20 7520 5620; North American sold by Endgame and Ealing (44) 20 8567 6655
The Other Man
Dir: Richard Eyre
Sales: Ealing (44) 20 8567 6655
The Daisy Chain
Dir: Aisling Walsh
Sales: ContentFilm (44) 20 7851 6500
Dir: Marc Forby
Sales: ContentFilm (44) 20 7851 6500.