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ISA of the Day: Eric Schnedecker of UDI

ISA of the Day: Eric Schnedecker of UDI

Our International Sales Agent (ISA) of the Day coverage is back again
for this year’s Cannes Film Festival. We will feature successful, upcoming,
innovative and trailblazing agents from around the world, and cover the latest
trends in sales and distribution. Beyond the numbers and deals, this segment
will also share inspirational and unique stories of how these individuals have
evolved and paved their way in the industry, and what they envision for the new
waves in global cinema. 
 

UDI was established in
Paris ten years ago as an international film sales agency and then expanded
into coproduction and domestic distribution. It only features first-rate and
award winning international art house films, including Las Acacias (Caméra d’Or), Octubre (jury prize for Uncertain Regard at
Cannes), and Gimme the Loot,
the winner of SXSW in 2012. UDI also has a special focus on Latin American
films, thanks to its head of sales and acquisitions Eric Schnedecker. He explains
more about UDI and its admirable lineup:

Please share more about your background:

I’ve always been
in entertainment. It’s my passion. I worked for Arte in France, but also worked
with companies in the U.S., Spain, and Italy, including Disney, Universal and
the Turner network. I was mostly in acquisitions and programming.

European
companies are very open to the world in general. They’re very adaptable. My experience living in many countries in the
east and west gives me an understanding of intercultural sensitivity. People in
the industry are coming from many countries, and need someone who cares about
their culture and history.

I’m based in New
York, which gives UDI the advantage of being on two continents. This allows for
better relationships in the U.S. For example, I’m working companies like HBO,
Starz, and Netflix.
 

Please discuss
some highlights from UDI’s Cannes lineup:

We’ve always
been dealing with big art house directors. We’re trying to find higher profile
movies with bigger directors and cast. We have a film here at this year’s
festival called Insecure starring Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest
Color
) and Reda Kateb, who was in Zero Dark Thirty and The Prophet. He’s also
in the Ryan Gosling film here at the festival – there’s a lot of attention on
this film, as it’s part of the Acid selection.

We have another
film from Kazakhstan, which is called The Owners; it’s a fun story. I see it as
Kaurismaki’s Leningrad Cowboys. It’s really a dark comedy / rock and roll film
that denounces the corruption of the country. The government of Kazakhstan
didn’t want it to be a part of the festival because they weren’t happy with this
portrayal. Regardless, Cannes decided to make it an official selection. 

We have some
very promising films coming for the next festivals (Venice, San Sebastian,
Toronto).  There’s one with Peter
Mullan called Hec McAdam – it’s a social drama in the Ken Loach style. There’s
another film called Felix and Meira. It’s a French Canadian romantic film in
three languages: Yiddish, French and English. It’s a love story between a
French Canadian and a Hasidic woman married with a daughter. This stars Hadas
Yaron who won best actress for Fill the Void at the Venice Film Festival last
year.

Where are your films coming from?

We really try to
have great films from everywhere, including France. We’ve been very lucky for
the last five years with Latin America (Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil,
Peru), which I helped to bring to the company. Many of these films have had
great success in festival competitions and sales. Las Acacias, which won the Caméra d’Or in 2011,
has been a major triumph for us and has sold to more than 20 countries. Another
film called Octubre from Peru won the Jury Prize for Un Certain Regard in 2010.
This year in Berlin, Natural Sciences from Argentina won the Generation
competition. 
 

How are sales?

Sales are doing
ok. The market is very competitive and challenging. There are way too many
movies on the market. We’re also at a moment in the industry where distribution
is switching to a new model that we kind of know, but don’t know exactly what
it’s going to be.

It’s a new
beginning and a big opportunity for the art house world, even though people
haven’t completely figured out how to monetize it. It’s just like when TV first
came and there weren’t many TVs. These transitions are always critical time
where people are either complaining or enjoying new ways to be.

With the rise of
the Internet, many people were predicting the fall of television, and that’s
not the case. It’s been a very creative and adventurous time for TV, more so
than film. 

These days, you
see television is bringing a lot of financing to the movie industry.

More about UDI:

See
Lineup for Cannes Film Festival here.

UDI international
arthouse films by promising young filmmakers and renowned directors whose films
distinguish themselves through innovation and originality. Since its creation
in 2004 by Frédéric Corvez, UDI has always been driven by the same goal: bring
quality cinema to the largest audience possible on every continent.

This Article is related to: Festivals