Les Acacias Screens ‘Tales of Hoffmann’ and ‘César et Rosalie’ at Lumière Festival

Will Thorne
Variety

Remastered works by auteur directors Michael Powell and Claude Sautet will make their way to the Lumière Film Festival 2016 thanks to classic film distribution company Les Acacias.

Audiences in Lyon will be treated to a restored version of the 1951 technicolor British adaptation of French opera “Tales of Hoffmann” directed by Powell and starring American tenor Robert Rounseville and British ballet dancer Moira Shearer, as well as Claude Sautet’s “César et Rosalie” (picturedin honor of the great French screenwriter writer Jean-Loup Dabadie.

Les Acacias assistant director Jean-Fabrice Janaudy described “Tales of Hoffmann” as “a visual masterpiece, a unique cinematic feast.”

The distribution company, founded in 1981, serves as an intermediary between the films and viewers both through distribution and programming for two cinemas in the Paris area: the historic Max Linder Panorama theater and Le Vincennes cinema in Vincennes on the outskirts of the French capital.

Films they have distributed in France include Akira Kurosawa’s King Lear inspired masterpiece “Ran,” Academy Award-winning Italian drama “Cinema Paradiso” and Sam Peckinpah’s psychological thriller “Straw Dogs” starring Dustin Hoffman.

“Concerning the distribution of classics, we both negotiate and buy movies from foreign rights holders  and manage them, with our historical partners Tamasa, Studiocanal and TF1 Studio catalogues. Our four people team is really passionate and cinephile,” Janaudy said.

Les Acacias scored a recent hit with the release of Japanese film “Yearning” (“Une femme dans la tourmente” in French and “Midareru” in Japanese) by Mikio Naruse, which was previously unreleased in France. Janaudy said as a result journalists and art house cinemas had more interest than usual and the film reached a larger audience.

The company also supports newer, up and coming film authors by acquiring the rights to distribute their films in France. Les Acacias distributed one of Christopher Nolan’s first films “Following” in 1998, and also the “Pusher” trilogy” by Danish “Drive” director Nicolas Winding Refn.

“Some majors directors we are currently working with are Hong Sang-soo, Rithy Panh, Wang Bing, Jean-Claude Brisseau and the very promising young Taiwanese director Midi Z,” Janaudy said.

Les Acacias’ marketing strategy for classic films consists mainly of organizing festival and press screenings, as well as putting together new posters and a new trailer, Janaudy explained. However, he added that the keys to reaching a wide audience are press articles and the community work carried out by cinemas exhibitors.

Les Acacias spends an average of €20,000 (around $22,000) on each classic film they launch.

“The market for classic films has been more and more weakened by the increasing number of releases and the uneven quality of distribution work. Fortunately many art house cinemas are tirelessly continuing to ensure the transmission of our love of classic films,” Janaudy said.

Showcasing classic film restorations,and run by director Bertrand Tavernier and Thierry Fremaux, also the Cannes Festival head,  France’s Lumière Film Festival 2016 runs Oct. 8 – 16.

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