Film Executives, Artists Mingle at Unifrance-Variety Venice Party

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The Unifrance cocktail event at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday, held in partnership with Variety, saw a heady mix of film executives and artists mingle at the sea terrace of the plush Excelsior hotel.

Presiding over proceedings was Unifrance executive director Daniela Elstner and artists present included director Romain Gavras and actor Ouassini Embarek, whose film “Athena” is in the main competition at the festival. Also attending were actor Swann Arlaud, César winner for “Bloody Milk” and “By the Grace of God,” who is at Venice with his new film “Beating Sun,” by Philippe Petit, who was also present; and filmmaker Audrey Diwan, who won the Venice Golden Lion last year for “Happening” and is serving on the jury this year.

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Jean-Paul Salomé and Bertrand Faivre, the director and producer respectively of Horizons strand selection “The Sitting Duck,” were also present as was “The Blessed” filmmaker Sofia Djama, who is on the Horizons jury this year.

Industry executives were out in force, including Venice festival director Alberto Barbera, Lucia Recalde, head of unit audiovisual industry and media support at the European Commission, Christian Bräuer, MD at Yorck-Kino GmbH and president, CICAE, Serge Toubiana, president, Unifrance, Giona A. Nazzaro, artistic director of the Locarno Film Festival, Jérôme Paillard, former head of the Cannes film market and producer Bero Beyer, the former director of the International Film Festival Rotterdam.

“We try to mix professionals and artists so that everyone can speak to each other. And then we have a lot of buyers here. So hopefully, they see one of the actors they like, and they go to the movie and buy it afterwards,” Elstner told Variety.

Elstner said that compared to 2021, when the world was gradually emerging from COVID-19, the focus of discussions this year is much more future driven. “We are in a difficult situation with cinemas all over the world and the fact that we have to get the public back. But I feel there’s a lot of energy since one year that has been developed between the businesses and everyone wants to work very hard together to give a good offer to the public,” Elstner added.

Paillard said that he is having a “fantastic time” at the festival and the Unifrance cocktail was an opportunity to meet with friends and colleagues with no pressure and discuss business and life.

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