Female Directors, Russian Buyers – Deadline

Here are some of the main talking points from the Cannes Film Festival and the midway market.

First of all, how about this time. The general feeling is that it’s great to be back en masse at a sunny, in-person festival, with the specter of Covid greatly diminished, at least.

Last night at dinner, a seasoned critic pointed out to me that the small number of widely acclaimed films to date (it’s still early days) means that the industry and the media talk more about the issues than the films themselves. Between Russia and Ukraine, ticketing issues, the censorship issue, Rithy Panh’s jury exit, a red carpet protest, etc., there were a lot of talking points outside of the programming.

The movies themselves have generally had a mixed response. Perhaps the best-loved film in competition so far is James Gray’s moving film armageddon time. As expected, Superior gun was a great way to spend the festival and the flyover was memorable.

Two of the films that have really stood out to date have been Bodice and After Sun, the first in Un Certain Regard, the second in Semaine de la Critique. Both are run by women: Marie Kreutzer and Charlotte Wells, respectively. The two are contested for the domestic.

In Bodice, Vicky Krieps plays Empress Elisabeth of Austria, idolized for her beauty and renowned for her inspiring fashion trends. Meanwhile, Francesca Corio and Paul Mescal lead After Sunin which a young woman looks back on the shared joy and intimate melancholy of a stay she took with her father twenty years earlier.

As Anne Thompson pointed out yesterday for Indiewire, it’s a shame that at least the former isn’t in competition. Women filmmakers won numerous festival awards last year, including the Palme d’Or. Unfortunately, this year, three of the five films directed by women in Competition did not arrive until the very end of the festival. It remains an uphill struggle in many ways. As a report by the Swedish Film Institute pointed out yesterday, female-directed feature fiction films spend on average more than a year longer in development than projects directed by male filmmakers.

In the market, we have broken the two big contracts so far. Netflix dusted off its recent woes to land the Emily Blunt package Adventurers of Pain and Apple just stumbled upon the Jessie Buckley-Riz Ahmed drama Nails.

Generally, there was optimism about the buoyancy of business. The market hasn’t quite come back, but there have been more packages announced than ever before entering the market and there will be plenty of action.

A point of discussion was the approach to Russian buyers. Despite the optimism of Russian state-backed buyer Central Partnership in a transaction this morning, we heard the opposite from sellers. We understand that several large American sellers are refusing to sell to Russian distributors, a group of European sellers have told us that they are not looking for Russian buyers, and we know that at least one national film sales body has agreed before the marketing that its members would not. t sell to the Russians. That said, there are several Russian buyers in the market, and some are certainly acquiring films. Boycotts are always tricky issues.

Theater remains an enigma to most. The good news is that the pandemic is receding and there are big movies on the way to help bring people back to theaters. But everyone remains concerned about the low attendance at cinemas in Europe and elsewhere. In large markets such as Italy, France, Spain and Germany, attendance at cinemas is still falling. When Searchlight announced its splashy acquisition for the Amy Adams Project Night slut and I said it was on Hulu, I looked at a colleague and I said “how times change”. It’s a brave new world out there.

Some sellers may have been a little too excited about the return of in-person events in a post-pandemic setting. We’ve heard that some asking prices are met with disbelief. lionsgate hunger games prequel had a record demand in Germany of nearly $30 million, we understand. the dirty dance rebooting was also expensive, as a teenager. Both are likely to fall. We’ve also heard of big demands on smaller art house films. A movie like triangle of sadness has some big numbers for international markets. But we also know that there is strong interest.

More as we have.

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