Unifrance sets out to re-conquer Japan
by Fabien Lemercier
15/03/2007 - The second edition of the Unifrance French Film Festival kicks off today in Tokyo.
Held in Yokohama for the last 13 years, the festival has been moved to Tokyo after a strategic decision taken last year by the promotional agency for French cinema abroad.
At a press conference in January on the 2006 export results, Unifrance president Margaret Menegoz stressed that "French films have seen their admissions plummet over a few years from 4m to 1.7m in 2006 in a territory where French films generally do well. This drop is what pushed the festival’s move from Yokohama to Tokyo. One of the problems with our distribution in Japan is the relatively low number of cinemas (2,900) for a population of 127m. This means that many films bought remain on a waiting list. It is therefore necessary to convince distributors to hold test screenings for the local public. In addition, a giant competitor has now appeared on the market – South Korea. They co-produce a lot with Japan whose domestic films are performing very well, to the point that even US productions are suffering at the Japanese box office”.
Running until March 19, the festival will screen 16 French features, 12 of which will be released in Japan. The programme will also take place in Osaka and Yokohama.
Heading the bill is Bruno Dumont’s Cannes award-winning Flanders [trailer] (see interview), Régis Wargnier’s Have Mercy on Us All [trailer], Laurent Tirard’s Molière [trailer], Philippe Lioret’s Don’t Worry, I’m Fine [trailer], Christian Volckman’s animated film Renaissance [trailer, film focus] (see Focus) and Michel Gondry’s The Science of Sleep [trailer].
Other films include : Jean-Pascal Hattu’s 7 Years [trailer]), Frédéric Schoendoerffer’s Crime Insiders [trailer], Jean-Pierre Améris’ Call Me Elisabeth [trailer], Manoel de Oliveira’s Belle toujours [trailer], Claude Chabrol’s The Bridesmaid [trailer], Cédric Kahn’s The Plane, Nobuhiro Suwa’s A Perfect Couple [trailer] and Xavier Giannoli’s An Adventure.
Other French actors and filmmakers who have made the journey to Japan include: Romain Duris, Benoit Magimel and Ludivine Sagnier, while 18 French international sales agents (among them Celluloid Dreams, EuropaCorp., Les Films du Losange, MK2, Rezo Films, M6 DA, Roissy Films and Gémini Films) are also in attendance.
(Translated from French)