Le Marché du Film, an interview with Jérôme Paillard >> Cannes 2013

Started in 1950s, Le Marché du Film has become an indisputable leader among film markets in the world. The strong relationship between the Festival de Cannes and Marché du Film leads to an essential increase of its participants. The Executive Director of Marché du Film since 1995, Mr. Jérôme Paillard talks about its ongoing expansion and innovation, the comprehensive Cinando and the obstacles of co-productions between China and France.

Every year, about 34% participants register for the Marché du Film for the first time. How does the Marché du Film manage such a growth?

The truth is we have two different increases. We have people who decide to come to Cannes, for instance, we have now more and more companies coming from China. And the reason for these participants coming to Cannes is because it is such an essential platform to reach the international audience. But we also have some people who are used to coming to Cannes anyway, but they now decide to register for Marché du Film because we provide lot of services. So the growth that we have partially is the growth of people who have never attended Cannes before, and partially because people who used to come to Cannes but now decide to register with the Marché du Film.

Could you please comment on the difference between the European Film Market (EFM) and the Marché du Film?

There is no real competition between the markets, because all our clients are the same clients: they need to have the film events throughout the year so we have a really close and strong relationship. If you want to compare the two events, I will say that somewhere they two are similar because they both have a film festival and a film market, which is quite another case for other events. For example, if you consider the AFM in Los Angeles, it’s a market without a film festival. So Berlin and Cannes, they are similar: a festival and a market. The difference is, as a matter of fact, everyone attends Cannes; Berlin needs to be more selective. Maybe they don’t bring so many producers and other industrial people from all around the world.

Could you talk about the brilliant innovation Cinando?

Let me explain where the concept of “Cinando” comes from. For me, when we work in the Marché du Film, we always consider information the key point: delivering information in the industry. We realize that there are not so many places where you can find all the information easily you need on the companies, the exhibitors, the projects and the films, so we started to build the catalogues, electronic catalogues, and finally Cinando. That was the strategy we employed. It was very important for us as we are trying to serve the industry not only during Cannes but all the year round. And then we develop partnership with all the main markets in the world. And we offer them Cinando for free during their market.

For the industry, it’s very convenient because they can use it all the year. Now maybe you sign up with our partner, the market in Busan, Hong Kong, Toronto and Sundance: all big events on the planet. I think for the industry, it’s very important because they can put information online once and they know how to use it. They can actually use it now to watch the films: we have more than 4000 feature films all for the buyers. Of course, it could never replace the theater or the real markets where you can meet people face to face. That is a very good tool to prepare for the market before going there and to know exactly whom you want to meet, that whose movie you want to watch. And also to follow up the market maybe you can watch the films that you missed due to some event and you can re-watch a film that you have already watched at the market.

It does not seem easy to be a member of Cinando. How exactly does the registration work?

At first, we offer complementary access for all the people who registered with one of the markets that I mentioned. If you are a participant of the FILMART event in Hong Kong, you will have a three-month complementary access. If you registered in Cannes with the Marché du Film, you will get a 12-month access to Cinando. You can also just register with 85 euros per year. So it is possible to just register, but it is only for people who work in the film industry. Of course, a producer or a festival programmer is considered as an industry member. The good news that I can give to you is that Cinando now is in English and Spanish, it will be in Mandarin in a few months.

How would you comment on the impact of recent Euro Crisis toward the Marché du Film in Cannes?

There are two crises. We survived, six years ago, the changes originating from the digital distribution and piracy. The film industry has been much affected at that time. We know that many companies suffer because they build their budgets on commercial concepts so they produce films that are too expensive for the new market.

For me the biggest crisis is the global economic crisis affected cinema a little bit but not so much. Because we know that, until a certain point, the cinema is not the first thing that they cut when they have to reduce their budget. May they would travel less, maybe they would spend less in restaurants, but they will continue go to cinemas. And the admission in cinemas is dropping a little. So in my opinion, the biggest crisis for cinema is not the economic turmoil but the digital impact.

The impact of technological revolution on piracy and internet distribution. In the theater, we know in many countries it’s so easy now in the theater to reprogram the film at the last minute. It’s very difficult for small films, because if in the Cineplex, you have blockbusters and sometimes small art house films, it will be so easy for the cinema manager to decide that he put all the screens on blockbusters and try to deprogram the art house films. That’s a technological innovation but it has a real impact.

For us, we are not so much affected. The crisis is true for all citizens. This industry suffers and they need to find clients and they need to find sponsors. For that Cannes is essential, even if the industry itself it’s not going so well. They need to come to Cannes. For us, actually this year we still have increasing participants.

What are the other challenges Marché du Film is facing?

Being a leader gives us challenges. It’s true for the Marché du Film, and it’s true for the festival. For us, the most important is to be aware of staying close to our customers and clients. It’s a big event with lots of people, and we always try to create the condition for a comfortable development. We try to create an environment that no matter it is a big or small event, people can always directly or easily find what they need. For instance, this year, we create a new program for the cross-media products and it will be really concentrated on people who are really interested with cross-media films. And they will be able to present some installations with cross-media projects and small round tables where people can actually interact. For us, it’s essential to keep that communication between people and that is our biggest challenge.

The special guest country in Festival de Cannes is India. When did the concept of “special guest country” come into being

That is not something which is necessary every year. It depends on the specific context. This year for India is very special because India celebrates the 100th year of cinema. Of course, it is a big country for cinema, so it was very natural that we prepare something in Cannes for the celebration. This year is unique, but next year maybe it will be no country of that role, maybe there will be one or two. But this year the idea is very strong, because we start to celebrate Indian cinema in the Marché du Film Opening Night. During the festival, there will be a big Bollywood Film shown in the Selection. And also it will be a big party of the festival about India, and the Indian guests also have lots of big parties. So it will be lots of celebrations throughout the festival for India cinema.

The Festival de Cannes will have a Chinese cinema event on Tuesday, 21st May, is there anything special about that event?

Actually we have a long relationship with China and also a strong partnership with the Chinese film channel CCTV6. We will have a China Night with Marché du Film on 21st May, and our Chinese partners will bring six young Chinese directors to promote their projects in Cannes among professionals. It can be attractive for financiers, producers or distributors to try to support these projects and maybe distribute them around the world.

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There are not so many Chinese and French co-production films. What do you think are the obstacles?

First, the communication between France / Europe and China seems not so easy because of the language and culture. And then to find a project that is suitable for both Chinese and the European audience is not easy. It is applicable to make movies that in China for the U.S. market, or maybe to shoot a film in France for the Chinese market, but to really to do a film which can reach both Chinese and European audience is not easy.

Another difficulty is more the question of regulations in China. You know for some people censorship has been a real question. As for Europeans, it is difficult to work with that framework. My understanding is that it is very difficult in China because things are not so predictable. What you do not have to include you do not have to shoot: that rule is quite simple. However, in China, these words are less clear. Maybe the script will be approved, but at the end the film will not be approved. That of course is very a difficult approach for Europeans where the author, the writer or the director of a film have the right to be critical. In Europe, we cannot cut a film without the approval of the director. And the director can tell you “if you cut my film, you cannot release the film”. Of course with the Chinese censorship, that doesn’t work.

Still another issue is all the system of co-production treaty in the world is based on the fact that in each country the film will get the co-production nationality. So if a film is a co-production between France and Germany, in France the film will be get all advantages as being French, and a special access to TV channel or special financing. In Germany, the film will be German, and we will get all German advantages. In China, if a film is Chinese and French, the film will be a Chinese film: it will not get any funding; it will not get the access to TV. That is something which is still missing in the case of Sino-French co-productions.

Do you have any advice for the international promotion of Chinese films?

First, you should have films which are suitable for international audience, because many Chinese films today are really oriented to the Chinese audience only. It works maybe for Chinese community around the world, but to reach real international audience you need different films. In that case, maybe some Chinese blockbusters are not so interesting for international audience or they don’t understand the contents or context of these films. So maybe that means that ultimately some Chinese directors with this international consideration may have more flexibility to meet the need with global audience.

This is why the event with 6 young Chinese directors coming to Cannes is relevant: it is an opportunity for them to know who the other audience is. Once you have the films, and then try to consider whether the activity or mission is efficient enough to promote this film to meet the international spectators. Your event and your market will be a very strong part of it. Actually the presence of Chinese directors and filmmakers in Cannes or other event will be stronger and stronger to promote those films.

Would you like to give some advice to the Beijing International Film Festival as well as its film market?

I’m sorry. I would never be able to visit the Beijing International Film Festival because it’s so close to our event throughout the time of the year. It’s impossible for me to travel recently. I have confidence that it will grow a lot as you know exactly how to hold an event. Personally I wish you have wonderful films for attendants. As for my work, I hope I will be able to give you lots of partnership and collaborations as much as we can.

This interview is done by Xu Jia and was originally published on THE CHINESE FILM MARKET, issue of Cannes 2013.

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