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71st Venice Film Festival : Interview with Pascal Diot

71st Venice Film Festival : Interview with Pascal Diot


This is the Venice Film Market’s third edition. Can you comment on its evolution, give your impressions and tell us whether it has fulfilled your
expectations?

Pascal Diot:
Yes. For the time being, it has fulfilled my expectations indeed because we have had a steady number of people, that is, around 1600 professionals so far.
I think it is quite good because I do know that the attendance at both Cannes and Berlin Film Festivals has dropped a bit, so it’s going well. What I have
to say is that I have also launched new initiatives like for instance the gap-financing coproduction market that went very, very well. We had fifteen
projects, 186 one-on-one meetings and fifty-six financial sales and funds coming in for the meetings. And, we have been able to sign quite a number of
deals. I was looking through the deals that have been done for the films screened at the festival and I think that we have probably around fifteen films
that have been sold and signed here and not in Toronto so far.


How have you come to create this market? How has the festival existed without such a market as it has always been said that the lack thereof was the
Venice Film Festival’s biggest flaw?

P.D.:
For sure. It’s true that in the 1990s and the beginning of 2000s, there was, as we have right now in Toronto, a kind of informal market which was mostly
happening at the Hotel des Bains. It’s true that after that, the festival dropped a little bit down and there was no market. When Alberto Barbera was named
director of the festival, one of his ideas was to start a market so he asked me to present a project to the Biennale as I was already the head of the Dubai
Film Market at that time. So, I thought about a concept that was unique and adapted for Venice. The aim is not at all to become like Cannes or Berlin
because we don’t have the venue and it’s not the kind of festival that could handle thousands of stands – it will never be like that. My philosophy, my
concept was based more on the networking, on bringing professionals – sales agents, producers, distributors, film commissions – together so that deals
could be done. And because of this, it helped the festival attract more interesting films because for a film company it costs quite a lot of money to
attend such A-list festivals and if they know that there is a market happening simultaneously, it can at least be a little bit more profitable as they can
use it to sell the films that are being screened.

What are the market’s objectives and focuses?

P.D.:
As you know, most of the coproduction markets, markets and so on are rather focusing on development. What I wanted, and the gap-financing is one of the
examples, but also the Final Cut in Venice with work in progress projects coming from Africa and the Middle East and the Biennale College Cinema, is for
the market to be aimed more at the completion or distribution of films. I will look to develop more and more this aspect of the business.

What else can the Venice Film Market offer to the film industry?

P.D.:
I would really like Venice to be a kind of bridge between Europe and the Far East. And, for this region, this year we have one Chinese sponsor that is a
very important video platform called iQIYI. We are also going to announce this afternoon another partnership with a big Asian space. We want to become a
kind of networking place so that producers and sales agents can come and say that they will have the time to discuss, as it’s much more relaxed than in
Cannes, and to be able to either initiate projects or to find a coproducer or a sales agent.

You think that this is precisely what makes it different from Cannes, Berlin and even Toronto?

P.D.:
Absolutely. But, it will always have the basic elements: market screenings, some stands, and so on.

Can you elaborate more on the gap-financing initiative?

P.D.:
I came up with this idea because I have been producing films. Usually, it’s the first 30% and the last 30% that are the most difficult stages and one of
the main criteria is to have 70% of the financing in place. So, we selected fifteen majoritarily European projects that were, of course, looking for
international money. It could be equity, post-production money, a coproducer, or a minimum guarantee for a sales agent or a distributor, for instance. And
so, what we did after that, as soon as we had selected the projects, was to print a book of projects which we sent to a series of financial institutions,
equity companies, sales agents, etc. And, fifty-six of them came to Venice and had one-on-one meetings with all the projects. The feedback has been very,
very good, I have to say, because, even if it was not based on the volume but rather on the quality, the meetings were very interesting for both sides, for
the projects and the film teams but also for the financiers.

How do you see the market’s short and long-term future? What are your plans for it? Where do you see it going?

P.D.:
I think – it’s perhaps not very humble – that I have managed to put Venice back again on the industry agenda and the professionals are coming back. Then, I
plan to develop it. What I would like is, first of all, to expand the initiatives that already exist: the gap-financing, the Final Cut and the Biennale
College, and then I will seek to make it an unmissable rendez-vous for the industry at the beginning of fall.

What other activities are you currently involved in, apart from the Venice Film Market?

P.D.:
This year, I have stopped working for the Dubai Film Market because the Dubai Film Festival is totally changing its surface and will become a smaller
festival. I have launched, this year, with Julie Bergeron, a new market in Brussels. It is a co-production market for European genre movies. The second
edition will be held next year from 9 to 12 April, during the BIFFF, The Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival. It is also done in partnership
with Fantasia, a very known Fantastic Film Festival in Montréal, and Frontières, a coproduction market. We are bringing six North American projects with
twenty European projects altogether. But, it will also be a market, not just a coproduction market, as we are expanding it. The first edition went very
well because it was the first of its kind in Europe. We have Frontières in North America and PIFFAN in Asia. I am the director of this market and I am
going to develop it.

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