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CANNES ’07 DISPATCH | Biz and Prize Buzzing as Cannes Fest Hits Home Stretch

CANNES '07 DISPATCH | Biz and Prize Buzzing as Cannes Fest Hits Home Stretch

Heading into the final four days of the 60th Cannes Film Festival, only a handful of competition titles have yet to screen for audiences and jurors here in France. Barring last minute surprises, observers have an idea of the film’s they expect will win. Meanwhile, a handful of films are also on a track to secure a U.S. theatrical release. Among the hottest properties is Julian Schnabel‘s “The Diving Bell and the Butterlfly,” a French language film that many rival buyers are saying will end up at Paramount Vantage or Miramax.

The film will no doubt end up scoring a U.S. theatrical release, some saying that an announcement will come in the next day or so and many buzzing about the possibility that the film will take home a prize this Sunday The other top reviewed titles from the competition seem to be Christian Mungiu‘s “4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days” (which was acquired this week by IFC for a U.S. release), the Coen Brothers‘ “No Country For Old Men” from Miramax, and Gus Van Sant‘s “Paranoid Park.” (indieWIRE will have more on those films later this week)

Jerome Paillard: A Sense of Relief, While Looking Ahead to 2008

Even if the Marche du Film didn’t exist, event head Jerome Paillard has often said, there would still be a market for buying and selling films in Cannes. A veteran of the Marche for some ten years now, Paillard clearly realizes that his role is to facilitate that business. And in recent years the film industry has followed his lead. This year’s event features some 1,500 screenings for 10,000 buyers and sellers from around the world, with a jump in attendance of at least 3% from most countries; attendance from Latin American countries is up 25% and there has been a 6% boost from the United States, Paillard said.

While Paillard says its too soon to adequately judge the level of success at this year’s Cannes market — there are still a few days of dealmaking to come — he is happy about a few things. Admitting that his biggest worries were over the weather and the impact that the 60th Anniversary festivities might have on market activity by causing delays or transportation problems, he said he could now breath a sigh of relief.

Seated in his Palais office, Marche du Film head Jerome Paillard. Photo by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE

“I can see one point on which we can be very happy, even (with) the 60th anniversary,” Paillard noted, “It has been smooth. We never heard complaints.”

However, while Paillard says that this year’s event has run well, sitting in his busy office near the Palais entrance to the massive multi-level convention space, he added that he is already thinking about 2008 and wondering what needs improvement. Early next week he will sit down for a debriefing with market staff here in Cannes and then his team will survey as many as 2,500 participants. Many of the decisions that will affect next year’s event will be made at the Tuesday gathering.

Among the recent changes was the decision to kick-off a full day of market screenings on the first Wednesday of the Cannes festival to accomodate demand from sellers. Concerned that buyers might not be ready to dive in immediately, Paillard admits now that it was the right move. In fact, he was surprised that business began even earlier this year, with attendees booking full days of meetings as early as Monday of last week.

“In a few days, we will decide 2008,” Paillard concluded, smiling, “This is a non-stop process.” [Eugene Hernandez]

PAVILION PROFILE: Romania Pavilion Promotes Well Received Films

After eighteen years, Romania has made it back into the Cannes competition for the coveted Palm d’Or. Cristian Mungiu’s “4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 days” about two Romanian students, one of which is pregnant and trying to have an illegal abortion during the final days of communism, has been enthusiastically received by audiences at the festival. In the midst of the flurry of media attention and buzz about the film, is the Romanian Pavilion, stationed in the International Village to promote this film, educate the Cannes community to the benefit of shooting in Romania–which has seen production in the country soar in recent years–and provide a space for all festival goers to meet with Romanian filmmakers.

Another Romanian title, screening in Un Certain Regard, is “California Dreamin,'” about the chief of a railway station in a small Romanian village during the war in Kosovo in 1999 who happens to be the local gangster as well. He stops a NATO train supervised by American soldiers transporting military equipment and their arrival changes the place into “the village of all opportunities.” Romania is also representing “La Foret des Pendus” in the Cannes Classics series, which won the award for best direction in 1965, about a court marshaled Romanian lieutenant condemned to death for desertion after WWI.

“Like any other Pavilion, this represents the Romanian film Industry,” said Eugen Serbanescu, the Director of the National Film Center in Romania. It seems, though, that Romania plans to do more than just promote these films, they plan to promote their country as a destination for filmmakers and their crews as well. Romania has a wide variety of perks, according to Serbanescu, including unspoiled natural locations, low construction and labor costs, a number of sound stages, and a new Kodak owned and operated lab.

The Pavilion is a retreat for local filmmakers and industry professionals to socialize and keep in contact with their home front. Romania has hosted a couple of parties in order to better represent themselves on the social scene at Cannes. Last Friday, the country threw a party at Radoplage with filmmakers, critics and actors in attendance. And on Monday night, the Pavilion offered a party for members and festival participants.

The Romanian Pavilion is in its second year of residence amongst the International village tents and plans to increase its presence with more films like the ones in official selection this year, boasting a roster of other films shot within its borders. [Ashley Adams]

The latest from the 2007 Festival de Cannes is available anytime in indieWIRE’s special section.

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