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Jean Labadie • Distributor

“The market has always changed”


- Jean Labadie deciphers market trends just before the Berlinale, where Le Pacte will be placing its bets on The Nun, selected in competition

Jean Labadie • Distributor

A long-time regular at the Cannes Film Festival selection, Le Pacte is in competition for the first time in Berlin with The Nun [+see also:
film review
interview: Guillaume Nicloux
film profile
by Guillaume Nicloux, which Jean Labadie’s company will distribute in France on March 20thand which it is selling internationally. An encounter a few days before the European Film Market with one of France's most cinema-loving professionals, who has recently distributed films by Moretti, Loach, Mungiu, Winding Refn, Garrone, Balaguero and Wheatley, among others…

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Cineuropa: How did The Nun get to be in your line-up?
Jean Labadie: I had worked with Guillaume Nicloux at Bac on Le Poulpe and A Private Affair, and it had gone very well. When he decided to do The Nun with Sylvie Pialat (Les Films du Worso), they got in touch with me. At first glance, it wasn't really in line with what Guillaume had been doing recently. But I was thoroughly convinced by what he told me about the movie, about how modern the subject was, how he was planning on directing it, and with which cast. The presence of Isabelle Huppert amongst others was an essential factor, as well as Pauline Etienne, who was quite marvellous when we saw the tests.

What other titles will you unveil at the European Film Market?
We will show Bright Days Ahead (article) directed by Marion Vernoux, with Fanny Ardant: the promo-reel that we screened at the Rendez-vous with French Cinema in Paris met with great enthusiasm on the part of the buyers. We will also present Just a Sight (article) by Jérôme Bonnell, with Emmanuelle Devos.

Your line-up also includes the documentaries in production We Come as Friends by Hubert Sauper (news), The Last of The Unjust by Claude Lanzmannn and Shade and Light by Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado. Is there still a market for pre-sales?
Since there is more supply than demand, why would distributors take the risk of a pre-purchase when they can see finished movies? Even so, we still present them, we discuss them, and The Nun for example was pre-sold for a certain number of territories. But in general, pre-sales have become quite complicated. France is the best country for pre-puchases, considering the number of competing distributors and the state of the market, but it's not the case for the rest of the world. We have high hopes for the Sauper, the Lanzmann and the Wenders, so we will wait until we can show them under the best possible conditions in order to sell them.

What about the very strong competition from other French international sales and distribution companies?
In terms of distribution, France has always had a very dynamic market. When attendance in cinemas was low, the television market was slightly more competitive. Today, the video market is somewhat depressed, though not yet dead, and the TV market is difficult. On the other hand, the cinema market is lively, and France is a country in which films from everywhere can come out and hope to attract audiences, and not necessarily due to a star system in attendance. So competition between French distributors is very high: which is why we are a market of coproductions and pre-sales. Le Pacte maintains a certain coherence because the films we sell are films that we distribute. Buyers know that behind the bill of sale, there is a distributor who will also be committed to the movie on his own territory. It’s a plus, but it is also the case of Gaumont, Wild Bunch, Les Films du Losange and many others.

How do you see global market trends?
The market has always changed. At one stage, South Korea was the N°1 market, then it was Germany and Italy: then very go-ahead markets became a bit depressed, sometimes because of the economic crisis, like Spain, Greece, Portugal, and Italy to some extent. But those markets, once they have declined, always come back up. There is always a turnover. For instance, the United States was a very dynamic market (especially at a time when almost every studio had its Classics branch), then it became more complicated, and now there is an up-surge, at least in terms of the number of sales, maybe not in terms of buying prices. In these cycles, France is probably one of the most stable countries, thanks to its system in general, a stronghold for the distribution of films from all over the world.  

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