Basking in the glow of the vibrant U.S. indie biz, the 39th Deauville American Film Festival appears to be the key pre-fall launchpad for European distribs with American titles. Kicking off with Steven Soderbergh's "Behind the Candelabra," this edition has a definite youthful vibe, showing Cannes-screening features from the new generation of U.S. helmers: Ryan Coogler's "Fruitvale Station," Jeremy Saulnier's "Blue Ruin," David Lowery's "Ain't Them Bodies Saints," Peter Landesman's "Parkland" and J.C. Chandor's "All Is Lost."
"Lee Daniels' The Butler," Ron Howard's "Rush," Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine" and Nicolas Cage starrer "Joe" are some of the other anticipated pics to unspool at the seaside fest.
Deauville over the past 10 years has shifted its primary focus from big studio films to mainstream indie titles, which seem to be hitting a golden age.
"Ambitious U.S. independent projects have been luring more and more high-profile talent looking for original storytelling and filmmakers with a vision," says Bruno Barde, Deauville fest topper. "And inevitably, Deauville, which showcases for the most part independent films from up-and-coming directors, is reaping the upside of this trend."
Fest will also host the French premieres of two studio movies: Roland Emmerich's "White House Down" from Sony and "Planes" from Disney.
"The strategy of Deauville has always been to lure journalists and audiences with big stars and studio movies and ultimately draw their attention on lesser-known films and emerging talent," says Manuel Chiche, co-founder of Paris-based Wild Side, which has four films playing at Deauville, including "Joe," "Blue Ruin" and Jim Mickle's "We Are What We Are."
For medium-sized Gallic distribs such as Wild Side, ARP or Pretty Pictures, the big plus is not only to have Deauville cover the talent's travel and accommodation expenses, but also to get their films reviewed in favorable conditions and test the appetite of audiences (since the fest is open to the public) to hopefully get word-of-mouth rolling, Chiche says.
"We don't have the marketing means of studios so we truly need the press to back the films we distribute," he says.
The festival is also ramping up its professional sidebar, Film Corner, to welcome more producers, distributors, sales agents and TV and VOD buyers, as well as execs from funding bodies, such as Backup Films and Natixis Coficine.
Despite the artistic high of U.S. indies, many still don't land distribution deals. "That's where Deauville can step up to the plate," Barde says.
On top of the 70 titles that will unspool, Barde has selected an additional 10 to 15 films that don't have a French distributor for the Film Corner library.
Moreover, 10 pics which will screen in Deauville's main lineup don't yet have a French distributor, including James Toback's "Seduced and Abandoned" and David M. Rosenthal's "A Single Shot."
Season 4 Adds Smallscreen Spice
"Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan is set to host a master class at Deauville's Season 4, the TV sidebar of Deauville.
The first few episodes of A&E's "Bates Motel," Fox's "The Following" and ABC's "Once Upon a Time" will have their French premieres at the fest, ahead of their local airing on Gallic networks.
Season 4 will also host a debate on the fascination with serial killers depicted in TV series, notably in "Dexter" and "Hannibal."
What: Deauville American Film Festival
When: Aug. 30-Sept. 8
Where: Deauville, France
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