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CANNES 2022 Marché du Film

At Cannes, panellists discuss the relationship between festivals and sales outfits

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- CANNES 2022: A few weeks ahead of its publication, two fest directors and two sales agents talk through the work-in-progress document they are preparing to improve the quality of their partnerships

At Cannes, panellists discuss the relationship between festivals and sales outfits
Ben Dalton, Ewa Bojanowska, Anaïs Emery, Grégoire Graesslin and Alexis Juncosa during the panel

On 23 May, the Marina Stage of the Marché du Film hosted a talk titled “Strengthening Our Industry Core: A Conversation Between Sales and Festivals,” moderated by Screen International journalist Ben Dalton. The event saw the participation of New Europe Film Sales’ Marketing and Festival Manager Ewa Bojanowska, Geneva International Film Festival’s General Director and Artistic Director Anaïs Emery, Kinology’s Marketing and Festival Manager Grégoire Graesslin and Luxembourg Film Festival’s Director Alexis Juncosa. The event was part of the Festivals Hub initiative and was organised by Cinando.

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The main topic covered by the panellist is a work-in-progress document being finalised by two important networks of festival reps (Europa Film Festival) and sales agents (Europa International), set to clarify the nature of their partnerships, ease communication and workflows and, above all, make everyone’s job easier.

Juncosa explained how the first talks about a similar document began already in 2017-2018, as there was nothing of this kind before. The plan is to sign the document on 6 July during the Galway Film Fleadh. Graesslin said that the idea is to make the paper public, open source: “It’s not a bible, but it will be adapted [time to time] through feedback.” While the effort is “humbly made,” the ambition is to expand its reach, potentially involving bigger festivals [the Europa Film Festival network currently includes 12 members].

Bojanowska added how the document could be useful to anyone working in the industry, but especially for those who are not familiar with the dynamics between sales agents and festivals: “It’d be good for new hires and interns, to give them some basics.” The document is currently 14-15 pages long, she added.

The document includes three key sections: submissions, communication, guest coordination and material delivery.

On the topic of submissions, Juncosa said that “50% of the work is understanding each other” and to find “a common interest,” namely “placing a good film in a good spot.” “When we can see this clearly, it’s a win-win situation,” he added. The document will not delve into too many technical details, as it is aimed at newcomers.

Among the challenges they have to face, the panellists mentioned the deliveries of DCPs, theatres’ equipment (whether it is adequate enough to screen a given film) and subtitling (especially when it comes to multi-lingual territories).

Emery said that the negotiation about fees usually comes at the invitation stage,  even though in some cases there are pre-established relationships which may change this timing.

Speaking about guest coordination, Graesslin pointed out how important it is for festivals and sales firms to discuss invitations together, without involving other parties such as talent agents: “You have a 60% chance your invitations get thrown in the trash bin.” Sales agents are in a better position to discuss them, especially when it comes to renowned actors and directors. Juncosa agreed and defined bypassing the involvement of sales outfits as quite a common mistake.

In the last part of the talk, the participants touched upon topics such as material delivery and its costs, how revenues differ across different territories, how politics can affect programming choices and festival premieres.

The panel was brought to a close by a Q&A session.

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