Films Boutique hits target with Curling, Kuma
by Annika Pham
20/05/2012 - While waiting for buyers’ reactions on his Critics’ Week selections Beyond the Walls (premiering today May 20) from Belgium and Sofia’s Last Ambulance [trailer] from Bulgaria (shown on Wednesday), Films Boutique CEO Jean-Christophe Simon is finishing off sales on eight titles at the market including the Austrian/Turkish Kuma [trailer, film focus] (photo), sold to 22 territories since Berlin and Norwegian film King Curling [trailer] (sold to France’s KMBO).
“Buyers know us, trust our taste in selecting both quality first-second films with an edge (such as the Critics’ Week entries) and more classic fare such as Bela Tarr’s The Turin Horse [trailer, film focus] or Alexander Sokurov’s Faust” says Simon. Among the films that are bringing buyers to Films Boutique’s Riviera Booth is Kuma produced by Michael Haneke. Over 22 countries have acquired it so far such as France (KMBO), the UK (Peccadillo), Spain (Karma Film), Switzerland (Xenis) and a deal is pending with the US. The Norwegian comedy King Curling which was a hit at home and screened in Rotterdam, has also been sold to France’s KMBO (which will release it in 40 cinemas) and negotiations are under way with curling countries Canada, Switzerland, but also –more surprisingly– Japan.
Just like King Curling, the Russian film DOM-A Russian Family by Oleg Pogodin which is premiering today at the market, was a commercial film at home but is offered to world buyers as a quality auteur film. “It’s a family film that turns into an action drama, a well-directed and scripted film with a twist that was a blockbuster in Russia and should score with foreign audiences as well,” says Simon.
The Critics’ Week selections Beyond the Wall co-produced by Xavier Dolan’s Boreal Films is a meditation on love and identity by up-and-coming Belgian director David Lambert, and Sofia’s Last Ambulance, a documentary by 27 year-old Ilian Metev who gives a tragicomic look at the crumbling medical system in Bulgaria by following three paramedics in Kafkaesque situations.
Simon is confident Sofia’s Last Ambulance will get theatrical releases across the world, just like the €2.5m German/Austrian/Swiss documentary More than Honey by Oscar-nominated Markus Imhoof and French documentary Becoming Traviata by Philippe Bézat, offered as pre-sales. Another strong project putting buyers in appetite is the directorial debut of French iconic designer Agnes B, My Name is hmmm… starring Sylvie Testud, Douglas Gordon and Jacques Bonaffé.
For Simon, the market is strong for small edgy auteur films and the big commercial fare. “It’s the middle films that are suffering the most from the world financial crisis as TV is not buying anymore and the DVD market has collapsed” he says. “However the positive sign is that cinema-going is not decreasing. When times are tough, bars and cinemas tend to fill in and even in a debt-ridden country like Greece, 70% of our films still find buyers as exhibitors are willing to put films up on screens.”