EXCLUSIVE: As international delegates land on the Croisette for what appears to be the first “real” Cannes market since the pandemic, Olivier Albou prepares to start. The veteran executive, who runs sales and production house Other Angle with his wife Laurence Schonberg, has four new films on his slate this year which he is offering to international buyers.
The company will broadcast images for Mélanie Auffret Sweet little things (The Small Victories), with Julia Piaton and Michel Blanc, about a very busy young teacher who has to take up the challenge of a new student in her class, an explosive sixty-something who has finally decided to learn to read and write. Then there’s Jennifer Devoldère’s midwifery feature The wise woman (Sage Man) with Karin Viard and Melvin Boomer as well as Jonathan Barré Serial driver (Good behavior) featuring Call my agentby Laure Calamy, Nicolas Marrié and Grégoire Ludig about a female psychologist who is waiting for the driver who killed her husband to come out of prison to avenge him.
Other Angle also brings together Bérénice Béjo, Elodie Bouchez and Emilie Caen stars Hawaii, directed by Melissa Driegeard, on the market. The story follows nine friends who, on their annual trip to Hawaii, believe their last moments are upon them following an alert for a nuclear attack. Hidden truths and resentment begin to resurface, and their friendly annual reunion soon turns into a shouting match.
The common thread between each of these projects is that they are all French comedies and it is a genre in which Other Angle has quietly excelled since its inception in 2008.
“We are a small family business and when we started we knew we couldn’t compete with the well-established, festival and award-focused French sellers like Wild Bunch, Memento or Celluloid Dreams and at the time, nobody touched French comedies, so we decided that we were going to take this place,” Albou told Deadline. “People thought that French comedies wouldn’t travel and that the international community wouldn’t be interested in French humor. But luckily we were right in our decision to establish ourselves in this genre because every year for the past 15 years we have had at least one or two releases and trips around the world, whether through original films or remakes. So that’s really our brand now.
Albou has been in the business for over 25 years. After leaving the prestigious French business school HEC to pursue his passion for cinema, the manager worked in many large companies in the sector. He did a stint at French broadcaster M6 and spent five years in sales at UGC International where he sold Audrey Tautou starrer Amelie, which became a global sensation. He also worked in international theatrical distribution for Warner Bros. in Burbank, California.
Leveraging this wealth of knowledge in selling and acquiring from big companies, he and his wife created the independent label Other Angle to harness French titles that would have a strong local impact. The company has entered into agreements with Orange Films and Mars Films to acquire and sell titles for them. The first title of Other Angle, The First Star, a comedy about a father who takes his children on a skiing holiday, recorded more than a million admissions via Mars Films in its first weeks of release in France. Shortly after, the company went up for sale for the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight title. French kisses (The Beautiful Kids) which also became a local hit.
“The first year really imposed us as a specialist in independent French comedies and it was done on purpose,” says Albou.
Since then, the company has expanded more and more into the business of commercial comedy with only Albou and Schonberg at the helm. It was also behind the 2012 title On the other side of the tracks with Omar Sy, fresh out of his breakout role in Untouchables. The title spawned a sequel for Netflix, dubbed Disassemblywhich was posted to the service on May 6.
“It became our biggest sell-out ever,” Albou recalls of the action-comedy, which sees resourceful cop Sy and a straight-featured officer (Laurent Lafitte) team up to solve the murder of the wife of a businessman. “We sold it all over the world and to The Weinstein Company in the United States and to distributors like Senator and Medusa. It really took us to the next level.
On the other side of the tracks recorded over two million admissions in France, cementing Other Angle’s position in the French comedy space. Then, in 2014, Another Angle sold Philippe Lacheau’s hit comedy Babysitters before selling the remake rights to Universal in Germany.
In addition to sales, the company has produced a handful of films ranging from its first Italian drama production Misunderstood in 2014 to Jean-Claude Van Damme’s action comedy last year The Last Mercenary, sold to Netflix. This title, in addition to the comedy spoiled childrenwere among the most popular non-English language titles on the streaming service with over 50 million views each worldwide.
“Every year we try to have two or three serious films in terms of subjects,” says Albou, pointing to this year’s title Simone, a woman of the century a biopic on the eminent French personality Simone Veil, which he also sells at Cannes. “But I also think comedy is a serious thing. We also try to make one or two films in English a year.
For Albou, relationships are important, and he and Schonberg care about the people they work with. They’ve done repeat business with Marvelous Productions – the outfit behind simone and Hawaii — since the company was founded and they had a long-standing relationship with Mars Films before it left the distribution arena. In addition, Other Angle has worked on several occasions with the production company Les Films Du Cap, most recently on titles The butcher’s daughter and Valiant Hearts.
“Making a film is a long process and if you’re going to share that journey, you want to have good people around you,” says Albou.
As is becoming increasingly evident in the international sales sphere, Other Angle, despite being an independent label with only two members or full-time staff, has the power to step in at an early stage. and bring finance to the table. Albou says the company is equipped to fund minimum guarantees so producers can secure financing and can also help facilitate French co-productions and pre-sales.
Recently, Other Angle ran a showcase of French comedies at the Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills, dubbed The French Comedy Club. The idea behind this initiative was to generate business for French comedies, particularly through remakes and acquisitions, and to promote French genre titles to the industry and the general public.
The event, says Albou, has been a great success and there are plans to introduce a second edition next year. “There’s an audience out there that enjoys these movies, but they just don’t get to see them in theaters,” he says.
In addition to selling his slate of titles on the Cannes market this year, Albou will actively pursue remake rights to the company’s library of commercially successful genre titles and he’s cautiously optimistic about what will happen next. waits.
“I don’t know what will happen next year,” he said. “Our business is fragile and small and it’s a family business so there’s always uncertainty about the future, but that’s the nature of the independent film industry. You have a movie that can kill you. You have a movie that can save you. We try to be careful and calculated. We face fierce competition from people who have a lot more money and resources than us, so we have to be smart and we have to be good in our relationships.