Guillaume Esmiol: “The Market, the challenges, the innovation. The future? It’s in Cannes”

The Market, the future, the innovation. In talk with Guillaume Esmiol, Executive Director of the Marché

Guillaume Esmiol, Executive Director of the Marché du Film of Cannes.

CANNES – One thing’s for sure: you can find the cinema of tomorrow right here, hidden among the tables and corridors of the Marché, between a casual conversation and a freshly closed deal. Guillaume Esmiol, Executive Director of the Marché du Film, knows this very well, which is the reason why we went to him for one of the first interviews for a special issue of Hot Corn, asking him to take us behind the scenes of what remains the world’s most important film market.

Guillaume Esmiol

The first question is quite obvious: what are the new features that we’ll find here at Marché du Film this year?

What I can say is that this year’s edition will undoubtedly be rich in novelties and innovations. In particular, we will delve deeper into Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its implications within the film industry, with a new technological partner and, as always happens at Marché, with demonstrations and expert panels. But innovation will also come through Cannes Next, our platform to discover and experience innovation and the future of the entertainment business with the program focusing on AI but also on virtual production. We will have many startups and tech companies exhibiting at the Palais des Festivals, including a Swiss Hub organized by our Country of Honour, Switzerland. And we will have innovation through the new Immersive Competition that the festival is launching this year at the Cineum..

Browsing and exploring through the program, one of the most interesting moments definitely appears to be related to IP.

Yes. IP, that to understand better is the Intellectual Properties that can be adapted into a movie. We already had our program Shoot the Book! to connect book publishers with producers, but this year we want to go even further with an expanded IP focus because we have noticed producers are increasingly interested in setting up projects based on existing IPs. So we’re launching together with CNC, Cannes Remakes, showcasing movies that have a high potential to be adapted in other countries and languages, with a focus on film IPs from France, Italy and Spain. Furthermore, our program Spotlight Asia will showcase a selection of Asian IPs, which can be books, remakes but also video games or anime. These three initiatives on IP make up what we are calling our new IP market.

The 2023 edition of the Marché du Film’s Investors Circle was a landmark event, uniting top experts from the film financing realm. Will we find it again in this edition?

Of course. We will continue the new activities we launched last year with great success, starting from Investors Circle, the program about investments in the film industry with a private pitching session of high-level film projects. Then we have The Plage des Palmes, the new, official beachside venue of the Festival de Cannes & Marché du Film, acting as an exclusive hub for creative talents, innovative speakers and industry professionals. Located just along the Croisette on Goéland Beach, this spot acts as en extension of all the happenings in the Palais, it’s our official beachside venue which will host more high-caliber conferences, key summits, and exclusive parties. I cannot then forget to mention the Fantastic Pavilion dedicated to the Genre Film community at the Riviera building. Finally, we are proud to have Switzerland as our new Country of Honour, which will be present in almost all the programs of the Marché, from Producers Network to Cannes Docs, Cannes Next, Goes to Cannes, Shoot the Book! and Spot the Composer .

Year after year, it becomes clear how the market now encompasses all aspects of cinema, not just production or distribution. How important is it to be here for those working in the film industry?

We must not forget that this is the most important of the year for many professionals. The Marché remains the heart of the Film Industry, no doubt about it. We are the largest film market, and I like to say the most international one as all the continents are very well represented.  For many professionals of the film industry, this is the moment when they make the largest number of deals. Do you know how to say this in these cases? If they have a good Cannes, well, they will have a good year. Many sales agents, distributors, studios, and independent producers also wait for Cannes to reveal their exciting new projects.

Basically, Cannes is the place for many things…

Cannes is the place for many things, yes. Here you can reveal your latest projects or promote your lineup of films, or to forge new connections. Italy remains in the top 5 of numbers of professionals attending the market over the years, with a strong and active industry always present at the Marché. 

You often say that within the Marché, three different Marché coexist. Why?”

Three Markets within the Film Market, yes: we have the film sales market, the projects financing market, and the industry summit rendez-vous, which complement each other, feed off each other, and make the Marché a unique place of encounters and opportunities for all professionals.

This is also the second year under your direction. How is the Marché changing with the growing presence of streamers and OTT?

Our program Streamers Forum – formerly known as Meet the Streamers, a program of the Marché dedicated to streaming platforms, strategy and innovation – has solidified its position as a premier gathering of unparalleled expertise and innovation in the streaming industry. We’re offering festival and market participants discussions with experts and leaders sharing their vision on streaming trends and strategies, with global and local streamers. As the streaming landscape evolves, our agenda for Streamers Forum will explore the different models and strategies in content creation, acquisition, and distribution for streamers, including the balance between traditional distribution and direct streaming. This year’s participants are Disney+, Max, MUBI, Pluto TV, Filmin and Cinobo, after Netflix, Prime Video and SkyShowtime last year. We take pride in being a high-level forum for these crucial dialogues at the heart of the Marché.

Alongside the market and the meetings, there’s the festival, which remains the most coveted in the world. What do you think is the uniqueness of a festival like Cannes?

Atmosphere. Celebration. Business. Cannes has this special atmosphere of celebration and business. There are almost too many things to do, as I said, many professionals have their busiest time of the year. It can be stressful for them, and at the same time, a part of the networking and of the business is carried out through celebration, cocktails, lunches, dinners, and parties. This mix of business and pleasure is distinctive to Cannes. Moreover, May on the French Riviera is far from an unpleasant time to meet up! And one of the key advantages of Marché is of course, its connection with the festival, the most prestigious festival in the world. We have the great advantage of having a strong festival and a strong market working together, reinforcing each other, mixing creative talents and industry professionals all together during a dozen days just in Cannes, and that’s unique.

Last question: we have often heard it said that cinema is dead and yet it is more alive than ever. What do you think?

Evolution and innovation: the history of cinema has always been one of evolution and innovation. Cinema is constantly adapting to its times and, yes, today seems more alive than ever. The success of blockbuster such as Barbie, directed by the brilliant Greta Gerwig, president of this year’s Cannes Jury, but also of “auteur” cinema such as last year’s Palme d’Or Anatomy of a fall by Justine Triet with almost 1,5 million tickets in France, or the success in Italy of the black-and-white film C’è ancora domani, the biggest Italian box-office hit of 2023, are a few examples of a very successful year for cinema, with a large diversity of films. And – as you can see – here at the Marché we support and celebrate cinema in all its forms, from feature film to documentary, immersive to animated, from shorts to genre cinema, from arthouse to more commercial cinema.


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