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Eric Lagesse • International Sales, Pyramide International

“Independent films outside of the beaten path”

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- A look at the Cannes line-up with Eric Lagesse from Pyramide International, with four films in the various selections

Eric Lagesse  • International Sales, Pyramide International

Leviathan by Andrej Zvjagincev in the official competition, Party Girl [+see also:
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by trio Marie Amachoukeli - Claire Burger - Samuel Theis, which will open the Certain Regard where it will be presented with Xenia [+see also:
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interview: Panos H. Koutras
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by Greek Panos Koutras, and Hope [+see also:
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interview: Boris Lojkine
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by Boris Lojkine in competition during Critics’ Week: with four titles in their line-up in various sections of the 67th Cannes Film Festival (14-25 May 2014), the international sales team with French company Pyramide (which will also be distributing Girlhood [+see also:
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interview: Céline Sciamma
interview: Céline Sciamma
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 by Céline Sciamma in France, the opening film at Directors’ Fortnight) will be arriving well armed on the Croisette for its Marché du Film. Interview with its CEO and president, Eric Lagesse.

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Cineuropa: In what ways are the four films in your line-up, selected in Cannes, representative of your own editorial line?
Eric Lagesse: First of all they are four true independent, original films, which are off the well-trodden paths. Among them, two are debut films, Party Girl and Hope, which reflects the general Pyramide tendency to be made up of 40%-50% of debut films. As for Andrej Zvjagincev, he is a director I have always dreamt of working with, ever since The Return, which I didn’t get but which I recuperated later through catalogues. We worked together on Izgnanie for distribution in French cinemas, then I sold Elena internationally, as I am currently doing for Leviathan, for which we have already done a great deal of pre-sales thanks to a magnificent promoreel. The film, which is absolutely splendid, talks about Russia today and draws its strength from the personal drama of a man who finds himself butting heads with the law and the state. It is the first time, I think, that Andrej makes a film about contemporary Russia like Elena, but leaving aside the contemplative aspect, which is much more narrative, with tension, threats and plot twists. 

What do you think of Panos Koutras’ difficulties to finish Xenia?
Greece is not doing very well, and in particular, one of the main production players, Greek public television channel ERT, was dismantled. From there, there was an enormous hole in the budget for a film, which was more or less financed. But in the end, Xenia is in the official Cannes selection, which hasn’t happened to a Greek film since Canine [+see also:
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interview: Yorgos Lanthimos
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]
in 2009. I personally loved Strella and really wanted to work with this director. French producers sent me the Xenia script, which I found great and I immediately got to work. 

The opening of the Certain Regard was given to Party Girl. Love at first sight?
Marie Amachoukeli and Claire Burger are two young directors we have been closely following, especially as Roxane Arnold, my distribution director, knows them very well because they both went to La Fémis. Their medium length film Forbach already featured the family of Samuel Theis, who is the third director of Party Girl, which we bought following reading its screenplay, when Elzévir Films offered it to us. All the Cannes sections were enthusiastic about the film and we received this proposal from Thierry Frémaux to open the Certain Regard section, which is an exceptional trampoline for the film. 

How did Hope become part of your line-up?
When I saw Louise Wimmer [+see also:
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in movie theatres - a basically low-budget film, which is beautiful and very well produced and I regret not buying it – I decided I wanted to work with its producer Bruno Nahon. He sent me the screenplay for Hope, which for an overdone theme like clandestineness, distinguished itself because of its suspense. It was strong, quick, and never boring. The pleasure I experienced reading the script was only confirmed when I saw the film, which has now been selected for Critics’ Week. It is the only French film in competition, but it was exclusively filmed in Africa with non-professional African actors. 

What is your analysis of the current market climate, especially for the kinds of independent films you defend?
The trend is not really evolving. Then, there are the films that make it, which conquer the world and provoke enthusiasm. I think it will be the case for a number of my films, which will greatly surprise, and I am not referring to Zvjagincev, who is already one of the greats whose films are so good they can be sold anywhere. In general, there is a recovery going on in certain places, especially more faith coming from Japanese and German buyers. It is true that the golden years have gone, but a good film should always be able to bear its fruits. 

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(Translated from French)

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