Only a few weeks after the G7 Summit was held in Biarritz, French content distributors and members of TV France International (TVFI) — the industry association of French audiovisual program exporters — will attend this year’s edition of Le Rendez-Vous in the seaside resort town, which is along the Basque coast.

Taking place from September 8-12, 2019, Le Rendez-Vous is among the leading regional international markets, supported by the Centre National de la Cinématographie et de l’Image Anímée and the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, among others. This year’s market commemorates 25 years of international French IP sales at Le Rendez-Vous.

At press time, the market had registered 68 exhibiting companies for the four days of business meetings and screenings, which will bring in more than 260 international acquisition executives from 60 countries, including all major European territories, as well as China and the United States. Confirmed participants are arriving from around the world, including companies such as Azerbaijan’s AZTV, India’s Sun TV, Israel’s Hop! Media Group, and Thailand’s TrueVisions, among many others. This year, Le Rendez-Vous organizers reported, Russia, Spain, and Poland will have the most delegates at the market, followed by Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany.

“The [international TV] market is currently undergoing profound changes with increased competition on all continents, an explosion in the number of platforms, and an overall rise in both the quality and quantity of production,” commented Sarah Hemar, who will be inaugurating her first market as the executive director of TVFI.

She added: “In this context of transformation, the talent of French sales companies is key in allowing our content to find its market in territories around the world and to grow our market share.”

Participants will be able to screen more than 1,100 programs through Screenopsis, TV France International’s database of French programs. Results from last year’s market showed that over 7,200 individual screenings took place, which was a 1.4 percent increase over the previous year. The most screened program by buyers was the drama series Philharmonia, produced by Merlin Productions and distributed by Lagardère. It was viewed by nearly half of the buyers in attendance.

Remarking upon the success of last year’s screenings, Hervé Michel, president of TVFI, noted that “the screening figures demonstrate how recent productions are suited to the demands of the marketplace, which augurs well for a strong performance in 2019.” In June of this year, Michel was re-elected as president of the association during its general meeting in Paris. He has held the post since January 2016.

Last year’s new export figures for the country won’t be posted until early September. But the 2017 sales figures reported last year by the Centre National de la Cinématographie et de l’Image Anímée continued to show growth for the French content presented at the market.  International sales reached an all-time record high of 205 million euro (U.S.$228 million), with an increase in exports to the U.S. and Canada. Meanwhile, overall exports for that year totaled over 325 million euro (U.S.$361 million), which was the second best performance in 20 years, following 2016. That figure includes presales, sales, and co-productions. The country’s animation content continues to perform strongly, accounting for 37 percent of French sales and amassing revenue of 76 million euro (U.S.$84.38 million), while fiction sales bumped up 28 percent to 64 million euro (U.S.$71 million).

On the conference end of the market, the programming offers presentations to highlight the strengths of and challenges faced by French productions worldwide. On September 9, Céline Calvez, French MP for the Hauts de Seine department and vice president of the Commission for Culture and Education, will present “French audiovisual creations — public-private cooperation to bring culture to all.” Later that day, Benoît Danard, director of Research, Statistics, and Forecast at the Centre National de la Cinématographie et de l’Image Anímée, will review “25 years of French Exports.”

In addition to meetings between French dis-tributors and producers taking place throughout the market’s four days, there are themed lunches and dinners in support of new productions that are debuting at the September event. These include: Mediatoon Distribution’s Tom-Tom et Nana, an animated series based on the best-selling comic strip; and Francetv Distribution’s Capitaine Marleau, a crime drama that aired on France 3. Additionally, a networking lunch for Arte Distribution’s documentary L’histoire incroyable des tueurs de bactéries will be held on September 10.

The event will close the evening of September 11 with a themed dinner and party for Federation Entertainment’s Ils étaient dix, a series adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None.    

Pictured on the cover are TVFI’s Hervé Michel and Sarah Hemar.

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