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Laurent Danielou • Exporter

Rezo Films: "The freedom of being independent"

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Laurent Danielou • Exporter

Since its creation in 2004, the international sales arm of French company Rezo Films has enjoyed remarkable success. We met with Laurent Danielou, one of the firm’s co-directors, ahead of the Berlinale, where the company attracted attention in 2007 with the title 2 Days in Paris [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Christophe Mazodier
interview: Julie Delpy
film profile
]
. As well as their star title, the Sundance 2007 prize-winner: Frozen River.

This year, Rezo will be hoping for success with Laetitia Masson’s Guilty [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
in the Panorama section (see news); Idit Cebula’s Two Lives Plus One [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
(EFM); the first promotional reels of Marion Lainé’s A Simple Heart, starring Sandrine Bonnaire (see news); Karim Dridi’s Khamsa; Abbas Fahdel’s Dawn of the World, starring Hafsia Herzi; and Welcome Home by Oscar-winning director Jean Xavier de Lestrade (see news).

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Cineuropa: Where do you situate Berlin in the film market hierarchy?
Laurent Danielou : It is one of the three major film markets of the year (along with Cannes and Toronto), well-known enough to generate sales for the films presented and taking place enough time ahead of Cannes so that you can launch projects that will then screen at the festival. Another advantage of the market is its manageable size. The entire market is in the same area, enabling you to meet everybody at the same time.

What is your pre-sales strategy?
We have decided to stop presenting projects where we are not yet able to show scenes from the film, except in the case of titles by renowned masters such as Rohmer, whose films we can sell without showing a single frame. But this is much more difficult when it comes to lesser-known directors and debut features, where it is clearly more effective to keep the projects under wraps until we are able to unveil scenes from the film itself.

Is the market for auteur films "dead", as certain sales agents claim?
No. Distributors and audiences have got younger and are less impressed by the great names in cinema, but films by established auteurs continue to sell the world over, even if the prices are lower for major territories. The situation is more complicated for young filmmakers, but fortunately there are exceptions.

Eastern Europe seems to be becoming more receptive to French cinema
The Russian market offers considerable opportunities for big-budget commercial French films that present a positive image of French cinema, which in turn aids the fortunes of more difficult works. When we don’t manage to sell the theatrical rights, we at least sell the TV rights for significant amounts of money. During the past year, prices have also risen sharply in Poland, but the Eastern European territories don’t buy everything on offer like the major cinema territories and they remain secondary sales targets compared to Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan and the US.

French international sales companies are doing particularly well at the moment. Is this due to competition or emulation?
France is the only country – except perhaps for one or two German structures – where major sales companies do not focus solely on domestic titles but offer line-ups that include local, European and English-language films. This is a definite asset, but buyers are very much in demand and it’s therefore important to have strong and impressive titles to attract their attention.

How has your slate developed over the years?
We’ve gone from offering almost exclusively French features to a selection of European films (including Volker Schlöndorff’s Ulzhan [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, Alexandre Sokourov’s Alexandra [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, the Spanish film Me and Micha Wald’s Horse Thieves [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
) and soon we hope to turn our attention towards Asia. We try to vary our line-up (of 15 to 20 titles per year) and we have the freedom of being independent. With its distribution and production activities, Rezo is not under pressure to have films to sell at absolutely every market, to keep the company operating. So all the films we choose are ones that really appeal to us.

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