19 September, 2011

Strong Film Sales Emerging From Toronto

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

Although it began rather slowly, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) which just concluded on Sunday, saw a good degree of sales and acquisition activity, with many more deals to be announced in the coming weeks. Although it does not have an official market sidebar like Cannes or Berlin, there is a good amount of informal rubbing of shoulders between members of the international film community who were in attendance in force.

According to the TIFF press office, more than 31 films were sold during the Festival's 11-day stanza to territories in North America, Europe, The Middle East, Asia, South America, and Australia, with more sales expected to be announced in the coming days. Among the biggest deals of the event was the sale of the UK drama SHAME by artist-turned-director Steve McQueen to Fox Searchlight Pictures for North America. Other films that were significant players included TRISHNA (UK, Michael Winterbottom), WUTHERING HEIGHTS (UK, Andrea Arnold), KILLER JOE (US, William Friedkin), THE LADY (France/US, Luc Besson), GOON (Canada, Michael Dowse), GOD BLESS AMERICA (US, Bobcat Goldthwait), ELLES (France/Poland/Germany, Malgoska Szumowska), YOUR SISTER'S SISTER (US, Lynn Shelton), THE DEEP BLUE SEA (UK, Terrence Davies) and INTO THE ABYSS (US, Werner Herzog).

Film sales confirmed to date include: BEAUTY (South Africa/France, Oliver Hermanus), BELOVED (France, Christophe Honore), ELLES (France/Poland/Germany, Malgoska Szumowska), FREE MEN (France, Ismael Ferroukhi), GENERATION P (Russia/USA, Victor Ginzburg), GOD BLESS AMERICA (US, Bobcat Goldthwait), GOON (Canada, Michael Dowse, HYSTERIA (US/UK, Tanya Wexler), THE HUNTER (Australia, Daniel Nettheim), INTO THE ABYSS (US, Werner Herzog), KILLER JOE (US, William Friedkin), LAST DAYS IN JERUSALEM (France/Israel/Palestine/Germany, Tawfik Abu Wael), LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE (Hong Kong, Johnnie To), YOUR SISTER'S SISTER (US, Lynn Shelton), SARAH PALIN--YOU BETCHA! (UK, Nick Broomfield + Joan Churchill), SHAME (UK, Steve McQueen), TERRAFERMA (Italy, Emanuele Crialese), THE AWAKENING (UK, Nick Murphy), THE INCIDENT (France, Alexandre Courtes), THE LADY (France/US, Luc Besson), THE RAID (Indonesia, Gareth Huw Evans), THIS IS NOT A FILM (Iran, Jafar Panahi + Mojtaba Mirtahmasb), WUTHERING HEIGHTS (UK, Andrea Arnold), and YOU'RE NEXT (US, Adam Wingard).

Of course, many films in the TIFF program were sold previously at the Cannes Film Festival or were pre-sold last year, and Toronto provided a shimmering showcase for their launch on the North American market. The many film critics who attended create an early indication of which films will be prominent in the end-of-year awards season. In addition, several strong titles are still very much in play, with announcements to be made shortly, including such films as the Festival opener FROM THE SKY DOWN (US, Davis Guggenheim), TAKE THIS WALTZ (Canada, Sarah Polley), A HAPPY EVENT (France, Remi Bezancon), WINNIE (South Africa/Canada, Darrrell Roodt), FAUST (Russia, Alexander Sokurov), ALMAYER'S FOLLY (Belgium/France, Chantal Akerman), OUTSIDE SATAN (France, Bruno Dumont), 360 (UK/Austria/France/Brazil, Fernando Meirelles), AMERICANO (France, Mathieu Demy), FRIENDS WITH KIDS (US, Jennifer Westfeldt), SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN (UK, Lasse Hallstrom), BURNING MAN (Australia, Jonathan Teplitzky), HABEMUS PAPAM (Italy/France, Nanni Moretti), THE MOTH DIARIES (Ireland/Canada, Mary Harron), POULET AUX PRUNES (France/Germany/Belgium, Marjane Satrapi + Vincent Paronnaud), and Cadillac Audience Award winner WHERE DO WE GO NOW? (France/Lebanon/Egypt/Italy, Nadine Labaki).

Overall, nearly 4,000 industry delegates attended the Festival this year, a 20% growth over 2010. Attendees worked closely with the Festival’s Sales & Industry Office, which facilitates information sharing and fosters relationships between accredited buyers, sales agents, producers and filmmakers. Many more deals, both large and small, will be announced in the coming weeks, as sellers and buyers continue to circle one another long after TIFF has come and gone.

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