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Nicolas Eschbach • Exporter: "THE APPEAL FOR US LIES IN DIVERSITY"

CINEUROPA May 7, 2015 | By Fabien Lemercier

Together with Nicolas Eschbach, we give you an overview of Indie Sales’ very promising Cannes line-up and analyse current market trends

Since being founded two years ago, French international sales agent Indie Sales has grown at an incredible rate. At the Film Market of the 68th Cannes Film Festival, it will be pinning its hopes on such titles as Disorder by Alice Winocour (read the article), which will be unveiled in Un Certain Regard, and on two movies in the Critics’ WeekThe Wakhan Front(read the article) by Clément Cogitore and Two Friends by Louis Garrel (read the article). We met up with Nicolas Eschbach to discuss his slate and the current state of the markets.

Cineuropa: The three movies from your line-up selected at Cannes were directed by young French filmmakers. Is that your editorial policy?
Nicolas Eschbach: First and foremost, we look for films with international potential. Each project has its own special characteristics. We believed in Disorder straight away because it had a producer (Isabelle Madelaine) who I know very well and a convincing screenplay, and I’d seen the first film by Alice Winocour (Augustine [+]). As for The Wakhan Front, the producer, Jean-Christophe Reymond, made us read the screenplay – co-written by Thomas Bidegain – very quickly, and we instantly really liked this super-ambitious project.

Diane Kruger and Matthias Schoenaerts in Disorder, and Jérémie Renier and Kévin Azaïs in The Wakhan Front: the casts really speak for themselves...
Indeed, and in Two Friends, you have Louis Garrel, Golshifteh Farahani and Vincent Macaigne. But we don’t only take movies with star-studded casts. For instance, I'm All Yours by Baya Kasmi, which we are going to show at the market, doesn’t really have a very well-known cast. The appeal for us lies in diversity. We have more arthouse-style films and feature debuts, like The New Kid by Rudi Rosenberg; genre movies like The Convoy by Frédéric Schoendoerffer or the Danish title What We Become by Bo Mikkelsen; and some animation with Moomins on the Riviera [+], which we have sold all around the world, My Life as a Zucchini, for which Céline Sciamma co-wrote the screenplay, and Dofus - Book 1: Julith, which is based on the video game. 

What is your expansion strategy?
The idea is to have 12-15 titles over the year. Indie Sales is also rather peculiar because I – me, an international seller – have partnered up with producer Eric Névé. Sales are our core business, but we are beginning to make co-productions, as we are doing for Suburra by Italian director Stefano Sollima (who directed the series Gomorrah), which we are selling as well.

Some people are saying that the markets have recovered some of their volume of business, but prices haven’t really followed suit. What is your assessment?
There are some countries that continue to buy, but at much weaker MGs than before, for example Japan and Italy, and markets that have got pretty tough, such as Argentina, which has become very Americanised. But there are some markets that are still strong, like Germany for instance. The English are rather cautious, but if you have a good project, they are willing to buy. And things are moving forward: at one point, in the United States, there were a lot of buyers, and then fewer, and now it’s coming back up again with new players. On the whole, the market is tougher: buyers are being very careful and pre-sales are quite difficult. We are therefore cautious with our acquisition MGs, in such a highly competitive sector. The reason why we take each individual film is that we believe in it and think it has potential.

Do you handle any sales specifically for the VoD market?
As Indie Sales is still young, we sell "all rights", but for certain films that are not sold in a territory, there is a second, television market. It has also become more complicated in Europe, but there are channels such as Canal+ Poland, HBO in Eastern Europe and ZDF which always buy European features. 

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