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Cannes Yields Video Deals as Souvenirs

31 May, 2004 By: Erik Gruenwedel

While Michael Moore's controversial film Fahrenheit 9/11 swept top honors and much of the press at the 57th Festival de Cannes in France, a bevy of U.S.- based home video distributors busied themselves acquiring and hawking a variety of product — including an infamous title from last year.

Wellspring Media scored a coup of sorts when it acquired all North American rights, including home video, to The Brown Bunny, actor/director Vincent Gallo's story of enigmatic motorcycle racer Bud Clay in a sex-filled journey across America that includes a graphic tryst with actress Chlo? Sevigny.

Bunny will be a tremendous video title for us,” said Mark Gilula, EVP of home entertainment for Wellspring, who added the film premieres in U.S. theatres in late August.

New York-based Wellspring also did brisk business with Tarnation, director Jonathan Caouette's 2003 nightmarish documentary of a youth spent dealing with a mentally disturbed mother.

Gilula said Cannes represented Wellspring's highest profile yet at a major film market.

“It is indicative of what's happening with the company overall,” he said.

With her 10th visit, York Entertainment's Tanya York was no stranger to Cannes. The CEO of the Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based home video company and distributor said a dearth of international funding made finding product with name actors difficult.

“Five years ago, I would come back with up to 50 films that we were very excited about,” said York. “Now we come back with maybe 15 films.”

Always looking to sell and buy action/erotic thrillers, York was pleased to secure sales footholds in Italy, Germany, and France.

“You never know how these markets are going to react,” she said.

Ildi Toth Davy, director of international home entertainment for First Look Media, concurred. She said a hot summer throughout much of Europe last year hurt theatrical and home video sales.

“It was a tough summer in Germany last year, but it seems to have come back,” said Toth Davy. “We closed a number of deals in Germany for DVD.”Lions Gate Home Entertainment and MTI Home Entertainment claimed to acquire “high profile video titles” at Cannes, but were unwilling to elaborate further.MTI, however, did showcase Bloom, a film adaptation of James Joyce's novel Ulysses.

The DVD/VHS release is scheduled for Aug. 24.

Philadelphia-based TLA Releasing acquired seven titles at Cannes, including the Austrian/French film No Rest For the Brave, about a teen-age boy who is convinced that he will die if he goes to sleep; the French Three Dancing Slaves, in which three brothers try to escape the tyrannical rule of their father; and Denmark's You Are Not Alone, described as a lyrical love story between two teen-age boys.

Maverick Entertainment, which specializes in Latino and urban product, acquired La Vida Que Te Espera, from Spanish producer Manuel Guti?rrez Arag?n, and South American box-office hit Cleopatra, from Argentinean director Eduardo Mignogna.

A company spokesperson said Cannes doesn't offer much in urban fare but does provide a strong selection of Spanish-language titles, which can be marketed through its Latino division.

Maverick Sept. 7 plans to launch two new genres catering to American films in Spanish and horror.

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