May 25, 2012
As the Cannes market closed its doors yesterday after nine days of intense deal-making and heavier foot traffic at the Scandinavian terrace due to thundery showers by mid-festival, Nordic sales agents were happy to go back home with signed memos on several Nordic films.
Genre movies and new directors such as Karzan Kader (Bekas) made an impression on buyers, while Thomas Vinterberg's competition title The Hunt was one of the hottest films on the Croisette.
TrustNordisk had another extremely busy market and was one of the rare sales companies to have daily feeds on sales activities in the daily trade press in Cannes. "Cannes has been overwhelming. With the fantastic reception of The Hunt in official competition, we are expecting to close deals in most territories", said TrustNordisk CEO Rikke Ennis to nordiskfilmogtvfond.com. "We also had some surprise titles selling very well such as Bekas, Frost and Escape. In terms of trends, no doubt that the buyers are very keen on genre films and the UK in particular is very aggressive. So we are very satisfied. "
Indeed business picked up immediately for TrustNordisk with a deal closed on Day One with Sony Pictures Classics on Susanne Bier's upcoming romantic comedy Love is All You Need.
Thomas Vinterberg's The Hunt was hailed by the international press as the Danish director's best film since his 1998 Festen and distributors that had not pre-bought it rushed to the Scandinavian Terrace to make offers. On top of the UK (Arrow Films), France (Pretty Pictures) and Benelux (Wild Bunch) that had secured rights earlier on, further deals were closed with countries like Russia (Russian Report), Poland (KinoSwiat), Czech Republic and Slovakia (Cinemart), Greece (Seven Films), pushing total sales to over 20 territories.
Nordic crime book adaptations for cinemas continue to be hot tickets internationally. Sweden's Easy Money 2 produced by Tre Vänner screened as a work-in-progress and was sold to Icon Film Distribution (UK), Frenetic Films (Switzerland), Maywin Media (Russia/Balkans), Film Europe (Czech Republic/Slovakia), Benelux (Lumiere), and Sonamu Pictures (Korea). TV rights of the second film based on Jens Lapidus' novels were bought by Peter Nadermann's Network Movie for German ZDF and French ARTE. Meanwhile the four films based on Jussi Adler-Olsen's crime novels about Department Q were pre-sold to Germany (NFP Marketing & Distribution) and Switzerland (Frenetic Films). The first film of the quadrilogy The Keeper of the Lost Causes starring Nikolaj Lie Kaas will start filming in October for Zentropa.
The low budget Icelandic thriller Frost by Reynir Lyngdal secured major deals in the UK (Momentum Pictures), Canada (Entertainment One) and Russia (Big Movie) based on a two-minute promo. The film was produced by Kisi Production (Iceland), Solar Films (Finland) and Axman Production (Czech Republic). The domestic release via SamFilm is set for September.
Swedish director Karzan Kader who won the Nordic Talent Pitch Award in 2010 was very popular with his directorial debut Bekas introduced to buyers at closed market screenings. "We were positively surprised by the acquisitions on Bekas, but having seen the film, I know why", said Ennis.
Svensk Filmindustri's COO, Rights and International Sales Ann-Kristin Westerberg was radiant after a full week of deal-making. "We've had a lot of traffic throughout the festival and met even more people because of the rain!" The 30mn footage of Lasse Hallström's The Hypnotist - first of three films based on Lars Kepler's best-selling novels - was a ‘huge success' according to Westerberg who finished off pre-sales on the SF/Sonet Film production with a deal to Japan. Westerberg continued negotiations on the second book adaptation The Paganini Contract directed by Kjell Sundvall and started discussing the third instalment The Fire Witness.
Bille August's costume film Marie Krøyer was well received at its closed market screenings, selling to Greece and Russia. Key territories still in negotiations include France, Germany and Benelux. The documentary A Love Story: Live & Ingmar was also well received in territories with a strong Ingmar Bergman fan base. SF sold the Norwegian documentary to Brazil and deals are pending with France and Spain.
Two major projects from Norway's leading production house Filmkameratene received strong responses on the pre-sales market: Victoria directed by Torun Lian based on Knut Hamsun's Nobel Prize winning novel, and Tordenskjold by Headhunters' director Morten Tyldum. The epic film is co-produced by Zentropa that will keep a few territories. It's a major project with a budget above €10m, and it's definitely on buyers' radars" said Westerberg.
Commenting on this year's Cannes market, Westerberg said she felt all territories were very active, even southern European territories more severely struck by the financial crunch. "All serious distributors who want to stay in business need product and in Scandinavia we have titles that work and people trust us". Perhaps a tougher sale these days is children's films, which is regrettable considering our strong tradition with the genre. This is a topic we need to address", said Westerberg.
NonStop Sales' Senior Sales executive Peter Torkelsson said Cannes was very active with VOD starting to compensate for the shrinking DVD market. "People take much more into account for digital distribution. It's now part of the discussions". The Finnish TV series and feature film The Nymphs produced by Fisher King Production was sold to Russia (Volga Films) and French Canada and the Finnish documentary Soundbreaker continued to attract interest.
Yellow Affair's managing director Miira Paasilinna said her third Cannes was ‘extremely busy and all screenings were full'. "Picking up Mika Kaurismäki's major project Kristina of Sweden was a leap forward for us". The sales executive sold the Swedish film With Every Heartbeat (Kyss mig) to Switzerland, Germany and Korea.
At press time LevelK was waiting to finalise deals to make announcements.