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Cannes' film market goes virtual

Jochen Kürten
June 25, 2020

The renowned Cannes Film Festival was cancelled this year, a huge loss for the film industry. But while the stars will be missing, the big business film market that accompanies the main event will carry on online.

Cannes Filmfestival | Marché du film
Image: Cannes Filmfestival/Marché du Film/Alexandra Fleurantin

While all eyes are usually on Cannes' red carpet events and spectacular film premieres, in the background the Marche du film market is where the real business happens.

While the film market where titles have been bought and sold since 1959 was initially cancelled this year along with the competition for the Palm D'Or, an online version of the event is currently taking place between June 22 and June 26.

Read moreEven without festival, Cannes reveals its film selection

As cinemas across the world comply with corona-related hygiene rules, the Marché du film is looking ahead to market the films that worldwide audiences should be watching in the coming 2020/21 season.

The show goes on

Around 12,500 participants have registered for the virtual show of films in Cannes, with 4,000 films and projects from over 120 countries on offer. Some are only available to preview as the Marché du film also showcases productions that are not yet complete.

Hollywood has always used the market to promote its films, and US director Michael Mann is presenting a screenplay for the long-awaited feature film about Italy's automotive icon Enzo Ferrari. 

The German Pavilion, a permanent institution in Cannes for the German film industry to promote its films, will also happen online.

Among the offering is Enfant Terrible, Oskar Roehler's film biography about director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and one of the 56 German films that would have been shown in Cannes this year if not for the coronavirus pandemic.

Cannes Marché du film
The Marché du film is no longer happening on the ground in CannesImage: Cannes Filmfestival/Marché du Film/Alexandra Fleurantin

Focus on future projects

New projects that have just been completed or are in post-production are of particular interest at the market, according to German Films, which manages the German Pavilion.

There is, for instance, Italian director Luca Lucchesi's A Black Jesus, produced by the Road Movies production company — a documentary about a traditional religious procession in a Sicilian village in which a Ghanain refugee becomes the bearer of a venerated Black Jesus statue. The film raises questions about the ongoing immigration debates in Europe.

A film by German director Sarah Blasskiewitz is still in post-production and, with the working title Chocolate/Brownie, is about a 30-year-old woman with African roots who grew up in the East German city of Leipzig, wants to be a teacher and works at her ex-boyfriend's tanning salon. Schoko (chocolate) is her nickname, a name she and her friends never questioned. But that is about to change.

The film couldn't be more timely, and could be among those generating interest among buyers at a virtual Cannes film market that is banking on cinemas soon returning to normal.