Distributors Line Up With “Market In Full Swing” – Deadline

France’s television sector is enjoying a renaissance, and this week’s French TV Screenings is another indicator of a bullish market.

The event, which takes place today and Wednesday (January 10-11) as part of Unifrance Rendez-Vous in Paris at the Club de l’Etoile, will see scores of international buyers flying in to explore the latest Gallic dramas, comedies and docs from leading French distributors.

This year marks the first fully in-person screenings, with a hybrid event held last year due to the pandemic, and nine sales houses are holding screening events. These include Arte Distribution, Federation Studios, France TV Distribution, Mediawan Rights, Newen Connect and Studiocanal.

A cool 106 buyers, most from Europe, are expected, with 63 distributors touting their wares in total. Rendez-Vous’ cinema strand will bring in more than 400 acquisitions executives to watch nearly 100 screenings. This morning Unifrance reported French films drew 27 million spectators worldwide in 2022 for a gross of €167.4M ($180M).

However, the impact of streaming – pushing shows like Lupin and Call My Agent! to the forefront of global viewers’ watch lists, means much fanfare is being made around the telly event.

“We’d be missing something if we didn’t offer TV screenings,” said Daniela Elstner, Head of Unifrance. “French animation has always been very important as an export but our members shouldn’t be known for just one thing,” she adds. “Since our series and films went on the major international platforms, they’ve been having an impact. The popularity of Call My Agent! during Covid became a great calling card for many French actors and actresses, and the more people talk about French content, the more familiar people become.”

For Mediawan Rights’ Head of International Scripted Sales Randall Broman, who is on the TV Screenings organizing committee, the event comes after a year of lobbying and discussions inside Unifrance.

“Given all the screenings already in existence elsewhere, it was about time France had its very own, so that we can showcase the quality and diversity of shows coming out of the country, year in year out,” he said. “Since the advent of Lupin and Call My Agent going global, there’s been a French wave that is still happening.

“It made complete sense to hold the events during the Rendez-Vous in Paris, already a successful showcase for French cinema and to which a TV market had already been added for the first time last year. It’s also a good way to hit the ground running in the new year.”

Mediawan’s sales arm will be in town with a trio of scripted titles: Prime Video coming-of-age feature Drone Games, in which the lead character is drawn into the world of drone racing by a gang of youths; six-hour Arte family thriller Haven of Grace, set in the seaport of Le Harve and involving a drugs and human trafficking story; and four-hour miniseries Start Over, about three people who are transported back a year on New Year’s Eve 2023 with the knowledge a murder will take place a year in the future.

“The French production market is in full swing,” said Broman. “Production values are increasing as networks and streamers compete for audience. Linear broadcasters are taking more risk with their content, pushing the boundaries and moving towards more edgy programming.”

Leona Connell, who was yesterday promoted to Chief Commercial Officer at Newen Connect, the event marks “a great opportunity for us to showcase the best of our French content.”

 “Markets such as MipTv and Mipcom remain key moments in our calendar to launch our content but smaller, more bespoke events, such as this week’s, offer us the chance to highlight our French offering,” she added.

Newen’s sales arm will today present shows in factual, drama and animation on event series such as P@st Forward, Polar ParkSyndrome E, International TV Emmy-nominated tellymovie (S)he and docs such as Paris: The Mystery of the Lost Palace and Russia: The Fragile Colossus. “We are delighted that we will be joined by the producers and directors of the shows – our clients always appreciate hearing from the creatives,” said Connell. We are also doing a separate screening to launch our new series from TF1, P@st Forward, and we will be joined by the lead actor and producer, Kev Adams, and the creative team.”

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