GOING BIONIC: DISTRIBUTING INDEPENDENT FILMS INTERNATIONALLY – CANNES 2014 FILM FESTIVAL & FILM MARKET WRAP-UP!

Hey Filmmakers! Welcome to Going Bionic, #216. Today we’re corralling key happenings during the 67th annual Cannes Film Festival as well as the 54th annual Cannes Film Market. So, here’s what we learned at Cannes over the past few weeks!

The 2014 Cannes Film Festival

The Winners

  • Palme d’Or: Winter Sleep, by director Nuri Bilge Ceylan
  • Best Director: Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
  • Grand Prize: Le Meraviglie (The Wonders), by director Alice Rohrwacher
  • Jury Prize: (Tie) Mommy, by director Xavier Dolan and Goodbye To Language, by director Jean-Luc Godard
  • Best Screenplay: Leviathan, by Andrey Zvyagintsev, Oleg Negin.
  • Best Actress: Julianne Moore, for Maps To The Stars
  • Best Actor: Timothy Spall, for Mr. Turner
  • Camera d’Or: Party Girl, by directors: Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger, and Samuel Theis
  • Short Film: Leidi, directed by Simón Mesa. Soto Special Mention: Aïssa, directed by Clément Trehin-Lalanne and Ja Vi Elsker, directed by Hallvar Witzo

 The Really Big Winners

  • Steve Carell – Foxcatcher. There’s already strong Oscar buzz for his performance, so Steve Carell is a shoe-in for an Academy Award nomination.
  • Leviathan – Sony Pictures Classics scooped up this amazingly fresh film; so we can all expect an intelligent theatrical rollout later this year.
  • Winter Sleep – Winning the Palme d’Or is very much like winning an Academy Award, and in some cases, it’s actually more important than earning a golden-headed Oscar. While winning the Academy Award is far more valuable in the United States, the Palme d’Or may be more valuable internationally. This is because the Oscar is seem as “America’s award,” while the Palme d’Or is awarded by an international journey.

The Trends

Mysterious Acquisition Prices
Just like Sundance earlier this year, studios are opting not to report the amount they spent acquiring films at Cannes. This means the acquisition prices are nothing large to brag about.

There Was No Clear-Cut Runaway Winner
While Foxcatcher, Map to the Stars, and Levithan all enjoyed solid buzz, neither one of them reached “Cinematic God,” status where everyone at knew it was the best of the fest. In fact, the night before the awards ceremony, speculation on Levithan winning the Palme d’Or swept throughout Cannes, only to learn that Winters Sleep actually won the Palme d’Or.

However, if I had to choose one clear-cut winner at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, that person would be Steve Carell. He has clearly transformed himself as an actor, and forever will be given far more respect as an actor after his performance in Foxcatcher.

The Film That Should Have Never Been Programmed
Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut, Lost River, was easily the most panned film at Cannes this year. Critics slammed it and audiences booed it into oblivion. But hey, Ryan’s #47 on IMDb’s Star Power list, so I’m sure he’ll survive this misfire.

The Conclusion
Cannes remains at the top of the mountain in the world of film festivals, because a) it still garners the most international media attention, and b) it’s where all of the A-listers flock. Surely the location and weather have something to do with it, but whatever the reason, if film professionals can only attend one film festival per year, Cannes would be their choice at least nine out of 10 times.

The 2014 Cannes Film Market
The Cannes Film Market proved to be healthy in 2014, as buyers were more active. Here’s a breakdown of some key observations.

VOD Buyers are Far More Active
The requests for VOD rights went sharply up this year, as VOD becomes more viable throughout the world. However, the VOD prices are still very low. In fact, most flights to Cannes will cost more than most VOD offers for small films.

Good is not ‘Good Enough’ for Most Smaller Films
A “pretty good” film will not sell in the current marketplace, especially if it’s void of star power of isn’t a social media phenomenon. Buyers need small films to be “great,” both technically speaking as well as story-wise. Any film short of being “great.” will likely result in a “pass” from buyers. The only genre that can get away with being “less than great” and still find a sale at Cannes is action, (and maybe sci-fi).

Feature Documentaries have all but lost their Value
If you don’t have a broadcast partner already willing to buy your feature doc before you make it, you’re looking at a very, very hard road ahead of you to get a deal. In fact, even garnering $10,000 as a worldwide total may be a stretch for most documentaries. That’s why you should find a home for it before you make it. Short of that, you can also self-distribute.

Friday Through Sunday is the Best Market Days
While the market started on Wednesday, May 14th, most deals happened between Friday, May 16 and Sunday, May 18. Thus, the opening weekend is the most important. Buyer meetings started to slow by Tuesday, May 20, and the market was pretty much a ghost town by Wednesday, May 21.

The Conclusion
The 2014 Cannes Film Market remains on the top of the heap of film markets. The only other ones in the conversation with Cannes are AFM in Santa Monica and EFM in Berlin. While the deals still aren’t as healthy as the used to be, at least the values are creeping back up.

That concludes this edition of Going Bionic. As always, I thank you for lending me your eyes, and I look forward to borrowing them again next Tuesday. Until then, I hope you have a great week! I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.




Posted on May 27, 2014 in Features, Going Bionic by
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