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Émilie Georges • Exporter

Memento Films’ impressive Cannes line-up

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- Émilie Georges • Memento Films

Émilie Georges • Exporter

Memento Films International began their sales activities at Cannes three years ago and have since enjoyed considerable success, including the Golden Lion at Venice in 2006 for Still Life. The French company will present some impressive titles at the Cannes Festival Film Market. Their line-up includes the outstanding film Entre les murs [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Carole Scotta
interview: Laurent Cantet
film profile
]
by Laurent Cantet (in official competition), US title Wendy and Lucy (Un Certain Regard)and two European co-productions that will screen in Critics’ Week: Anna Novion’s Grown Ups [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
and Ursula Meier’s Home [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Kacey Mottet Klein
interview: Thierry Spicher
interview: Ursula Meier
film profile
]
. We met with Émilie Georges, the director of the company that backs quality films and whose international sales arm is headed – as of last summer – by Tanja Meissner.

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Cineuropa: How important is the Cannes Film Festival and its market for a company such as Memento?
Émilie Georges: For all sellers, this is the most important market of the year and in particular for those who are in the auteur film sector. It’s the longest market and the most intense in terms of the number of films screened and bought. It’s an opportunity to meet the greatest number of buyers of all different nationalities. It’s therefore a very important event for us. Last year, sales went very well for Boarding Gate [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, but this year, three of our films have been selected and that’s a first. Our company was founded only three years ago and we have just a few films on our yearly line-up. We began with four, then six, and then eight. We don’t intend to increase this number.

Is a festival selection automatically an asset or can it be counter-productive for sales?
It can indeed be damaging for a film in a weak position, as we discovered with Kilometre Zero [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, which was in competition at Cannes in 2005, even though sales were successful after the festival. But a festival selection is above all an excellent opportunity to present a film, to thrust it into the spotlight and attract the attention of both the press and buyers.

When did the films you’ll be presenting at Cannes become part of your slate?
Just before Berlin for Laurent Cantet’s film, after we had seen an edited version. We took Home on the strength of its highly original screenplay and we weren’t disappointed by the film, which we’re very proud to represent. As for Anna Novion’s debut feature, we decided to distribute the film domestically and handle international sales as soon as we had read the screenplay, even before it obtained an advance on receipts from the CNC. By pure coincidence, these three European films have been completed at the same time, but it’s not our intention to focus on one region in particular. At the Cannes Film Market, we will also screen the Thai feature Wonderful Town – which won awards at Rotterdam and Pusan and has already sold to around 12 territories – as well as Philippe Aractingi’s Under the Bombs.

Is the auteur film market dead, as one of your colleagues predicted at Cannes last year?
It’s true that the market is shrinking. Lots of distribution companies are closing in territories across the world and we’re seeing the phenomenon of concentration. So you could say that the situation is becoming more and more difficult for auteur films. Nevertheless, there is still a niche for auteur fare, but with a demand for fewer films, thus for particularly strong and original films. That’s why we prefer to focus on just a few films that we think we can sell pretty much all over the world. This is a necessary condition before we agree to represent a film: that it exports well and appeals to an international audience.

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