Labadie ousted from Bac Films
by Fabien Lemercier
14/09/2007 - A leading figure in the French film industry, Jean Labadie was dismissed on Wednesday from his post as director general at Bac Films, the distribution outfit he directed since its creation in 1986.
Labadie has been replaced by Roch Lener, who previously directed the Bac Majestic (a group including Bac Films who are also active in video publishing and sales of films to television channels and international companies) and Millimages, of which Bac Majestic has been a subsidiary since late 2003.
The reasons for this change have not yet been revealed and rumours are already doing the rounds. The first of these is a 32% fall in Bac Majestic’s turnover to €8.7m in the first half of 2007, compared to the same period in 2006, a drop caused by poor box office results of Alain Berberian’s Treasured Island [trailer] and a reduction in the number of features distributed (eight compared to 12 in the first half of 2006).
Currently the 14th most successful distribution company in France with 1.7m admissions, Bac Films also released in the first six months of the year Corneliu Porumboiu’s 12:08 East of Bucharest [trailer, film focus] ( Focus), Julien Séri’s Scorpion [trailer], Chris Noonan’s Miss Potter [trailer], Marion Hänsel’s Sounds of Sand [trailer], Martin Valente’s Fragiles(s) [trailer] and Christophe Honoré’s Cannes entry Love Songs [trailer].
However, the outfit has a number of attractive titles in the second half of 2007, beginning with Cristian Mungiu’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days [trailer, film focus] (see Focus) and Nadine Labaki’s Caramel [trailer], currently on release, along with Damien Odoul’s L'Histoire de Richard O. [trailer] (out September 19, 2007), Alfred Lot’s thriller La chambre des morts [trailer] (November 14), Véra Belmont’s Survivre avec les loups [trailer] (November 21), Franck Vestiel’s fantastical thriller Eden Log (December 26), Carlos Reygadas’ Silent Light [trailer] (Jury Prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, out in December) and Peter Greenaway’s Nightwatching [trailer] (in competition at the 2007 Venice Film Festival, out in December).
An active member of D.I.R.E. (European Network of Independent Distributors), Labadie is renowned for his skill of discovering new talent. In 20 years, Bac Films distributed, and even co-produced, eight Cannes Palmes d’Or titles and its catalogue includes such names as Polanski, Moretti, Jarmusch, Tavernier, Angelopoulos, Corneau, Gitaï, Chabrol, Desplechin, Klapisch, Salles, Chéreau, Chatiliez, Sautet, Leconte, Olmi, Campion, Begnini, Tarantino and Wenders.
However, Labadie expressed his weariness about the overall state of film distribution in France in an article published in March earlier this year on the Télérama blog.
Although Labadie still holds 19.99% of capital and 28.11% of voting rights at Bac Majestic (whose shares dropped 7% on the French stock market yesterday), incertitude still surrounds his future, with or without Bac.
(Translated from French)