コラム:パリジェンヌの東京映画レポート! - 第7回



第7回:日本びいきのフランス女優は? ユニフランス東京訪問

Today, I would like to feature an interview with Valérie-Anne Christen, the head of the Unifrance Tokyo office.

-What consists the activity of UNIFRANCE Tokyo in?

UNIFRANCE is an organization dedicated to promoting French cinema worldwide, gathering film producers, sales agents, directors, actors, screenwriters and helping exporters and local distributors. We back exporters through worldwide market researches and provide them a good knowledge of the market, the distributors…As we are located in Tokyo and speak Japanese, we cannot help but researching more about Japan. It is also a strategic choice: Japan is one of the most important countries for French cinema, and the first one in Asia. We also work for local players: when a distributor buys the rights of a French movie and wants to promote it, we support him financially. We also do our best to send a French delegation in all major festivals, starting with the most famous – Cannes, Berlin, Venice– but also smaller events like the festivals in Poussan, Tokyo, or Bangkok. Eventually, we organize our own events, among which festivals. We select strategic territories, and Japan has of course been part of them for almost 20 years.


-What kind of movies Japanese spectators prefer? Is Japan representative for Asian likings?

As a mature audience, deeply interested in cinema, Japanese have diversified and fine likings. Concerning French movies, they like to recognize a typical French atmosphere, the French state of mind and something refined. I wouldn’t say there is one representative country; each one has very specific preferences. However, something universal in Asia is the way people care actors and glamour. France refers to glamour, and cinema too. That’s why Japanese also interest in Hollywood. When introducing a popular actor, a movie has more spectators and success. But in an interesting way, some famous French actors aren’t well-known here and vice-versa! Gaspard Ulliel is popular in France, because he played in successful movies and is handsome. But his handsomeness is far more important in Japan than in France!

-The 2008 annual report of UNIFRANCE points out that Japan underwent some difficulties as the French movies had less spectators. How do you explain this phenomenon and what do you foresee for 2009?

2007 was characterized by productions like La Môme or Arthur et les Minimoys, which had a lot of spectators. Conversely, last year, there was no movie of so major a scale, as calendar would have it. But this decrease isn’t due to a lack of interest from Japanese for French cinema! The most successful movie in 2008, Le scaphandre et le papillon, is not a film with a huge commercial potential: it’s a hard story that not everybody feels fancy seeing. But as big films are currently released (Taken, Transporter 3, Coco avant Chanel), 2009 promises to be very good.


-Have you ever experienced different perceptions of a movie between French and Japanese spectators ?

I experienced it Entre les murs, a grave and serious movie about present-day problems of youth, school, language and discipline in France. A real social phenomenon. A distributor representative, whose opinion I asked for, seemed undecided and asked me if it was a comedy. I was quite shocked. I saw a French woman crying, whereas some Japanese spectators thought this teenage language was funny. Of course, it doesn’t mean the film won’t be understood in Japan: a distributor bought it and will organize an explaining campaign to make the movie’s meaning understood. Fortunately, I don’t have many similar anecdotes!
However, it is quite hard to export comedies. Humor is not really translatable, so what we find funny don’t systematically make people abroad. For example, Bienvenue chez les Chtis broke all records in France. But as it’s a parody of a French regional phenomenon, no distributor bought it. Humor is local.

-Who are the artists who love Japan and systematically come back?

Juliette Binoche appears in the presentation for the Tokyo festival, Audrey Tautou will come for Coco avant Chanel, Patrice Leconte almost came for all his movies (his Japanese distributor has been the same one for 20 years!), Ludivine Sagnier came twice…Japan is a country artists really want to come. And once they experienced Japanese hospitality and kindness, even if their work rhythm is harder in Japan, they always want to come back!





――日本の観客はどんなフランス映画を好みますか? また、それはアジア全体の嗜好を代弁しているのでしょうか?


――2008年、日本ではフランス映画の興行が難航を極めたそうですが、これにはどんな理由が考えられますか? また、2009年のフランス映画興行の展望は?












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