Vincent Maraval • Exporter
Cannes according to Wild Bunch
by Fabien Lemercier
One week before the 60th Cannes Film Festival, in which the very dynamic French sales company Wild Bunch will once again present a rather full line-up, Vincent Maraval shares his always punchy views on the impact of the world's most famous festival. To note, in Cannes Wild Bunch will sell Cristian Mungiu's Romanian competition entry 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days [+see also:
interview: Cristian Mungiu
interview: Oleg Mutu
film profile], Abel Ferrara's Italian production Go Go Tales (Midnight Screenings), Barbet Schroeder's documentary L'avocat de la terreur, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi's second feature Le rêve de la nuit d’avant [+see also:
film profile] (Un Certain Regard), as well as Calle Santa Fe by Colombia-born director Carmen Castillo (Un Certain Regard), and The Orphanage [+see also:
film profile] by Spain's Juan Antonio Bayona (Special Screenings – Critics’ Week).
Cineuropa: How important is the Cannes Film Festival and its market for a company like Wild Bunch?
Vincent Maraval: It is the most important meeting of the year since it gathers the greatest number of business people and film professionals. That's where we do between one third and half of our annual turnover. The American Film Market is purely a market, Venice is purely a festival, Cannes is the only event that manages to combine the two.
Is having a film screen in official selection essential?
To decide to put a film in the official selection and even more in the Official competition might be tricky. The risk is more important than the advantages. One must present films that are considered masterpieces and that will win several prizes (like The Son's Room [+see also:
film profile] and Fahrenheit 9/11) or films that are totally unexpected. Because if we deceive an audience with very high expectations, there will be no space for mercy, like what happened with Southland Tales and Charlie Says [+see also:
film profile] last year. No one says Nicole Garcia's film is beautiful, well done, well performed but a bit boring, people say immediately “How come that shit was accepted by the festival?” And it was our mistake, as there were mistakes we had not seen due to our enthusiasm, which is the sales agent’s biggest fault. On the other hand, radical titles - like Brown Bunny and Irréversible, whose screenings are very rock and roll, as lively as a football match – are good memories. Bad memories are films for which we expect a standing ovation or boos and in the end you get the feeling everyone is falling asleep.
Are French films the most advantaged at Cannes?
No, not at all. What usually goes worse is the French contingent. French cinema lives in a closed circle of 200-300 people. Suddenly, we expose our weakness to the entire world and get punched on the face. We say: Berri's film is amazing, Téchiné's is amazing, Miller's is amazing, but once we show them alongside Korean, Japanese or Latin cinema we get punched as they all have a vitality that does not exist in European film. We also realise, for instance, that American films take much more risks, when it comes to political documentaries, for instance.
How do the critics – usually judged as being tough in Cannes – influence sales?
They have very little influence. In a certain sense, it is a weakness that Cannes organises screenings exclusively for the press and screenings exclusively for the public. There is also a very dogmatic side to French critics, which might be very bad, whereas the international press is amazing, like in the case of Buenos Aires 1977 last year. Globally, the impact of the press is smaller nowadays. It used to be bigger when they were among the first to watch a film. But nowadays, with internet and all new means of communication, critics usually arrive late. Now the papers cover the shooting, they say they have seen images, that there is a good buzz about the film; nothing like that existed before. The role of the press and festivals was to put a spotlight on films that would otherwise remain unknown. That revelatory effect might exist for very distant film industries, with very few means, but festivals are no longer capable of being revealing when it comes to dominant countries’ cinema. We already know everything. It is a huge problem for those who must reinvent themselves.
How do you imagine the future?
Haneke, Almodóvar and Jarmush attracted people's attention with their fourth, fifth or sixth film. If that was today, it would have happened with their first or second film. An Indonesian distributor might easily point out an amazing film through a simple phone call, or we can pick it out on the Internet for $200, get the DVD 48 hours later and suggest it to the festival's selector. That makes a big mess, because if we have seen it, lots of people other might have seen it too. That's the big difference: things are getting quicker and quicker.
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