How David Kau scored Cannes deal

2014-05-25 15:00

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Cannes – It took David Kau one sentence to land a distribution deal for his latest film project: “It’s a movie about a superhero who can only fly 10cm.”

But that’s the nature of the Cannes Film Festival, says comedian Kau. “You have to be ready to pitch an idea smartly, succinctly and at any time.”

The world’s most prestigious film festival wraps up today with the awarding of the coveted Palme d’Or.

Frontrunners for the prize, considered a good predictor of Oscar success, include Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner; Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, which stars Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum; and Tommy Lee Jones’ The Homesman, in which he co-stars with Hilary Swank.

Cannes’ less glamorous but perhaps more vital business, the market, finished on Friday.

The Marche, as it is known on the French Riviera, is where Kau and others go to share their ideas and try to impress potential distributors.

For the past decade or so, the National Film and Video Foundation has hosted a South African stand in Cannes’ ­International Pavilion.

Kau told City Press: “It does blow me away that [the distributors] have so much faith in that one line, but for me, it also goes back to the basics of pitching an idea in this environment, where you can meet the best producers, ­actors and directors, but you actually don’t have the time, or they don’t have it, to listen to people pitch stuff.

“So you do need to be able to pitch something in a minute or less, when the opportunity arises.”

Los Angeles-based Archstone Pictures will take on the worldwide rights to distribute his film, a superhero ­movie called Sekwankwetla – a Sotho word meaning top guy or leader, which will be headed by renowned TV director Teboho Mahlatsi.

“I will still raise the money to make the film,” says Kau. “[Mahlatsi] and I will still own the film and it will be a South African production.

“The distribution deal upfront makes it a bit easier to get funding.”

He and Mahlatsi will retain the African rights for the film, but will work with Archstone should they be able to help with extra resources – like a Hollywood name or special effects.

Cape Town-based producer Greig Buckle knows how working the crowd at Cannes can pay off.

Since his involvement in Life, Above All, which screened in Official Selection at Cannes in 2010, Buckle has been working on securing new films through his Enigma Pictures production firm.

During this year’s festival, he signed on to co-produce South Africa’s first film with Australia, the result of a treaty between the two countries in 2011.

The movie, called One, will be directed by an Australian and will star Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond) and Alexis Knapp (Pitch Perfect), but will be filmed in South Africa in October.

These co-production treaties seem to be the way forward for many in the South African film industry.

The Salvation, a Western set in 1870s America but filmed on a farm outside Joburg, was snapped up by IFC Films this week for North American viewers.

A co-production between South ­Africa’s Spier Films and Denmark’s Zentropa, the movie features Danish star Mads Mikkelsen and Jeffrey Dean ­Morgan (Grey’s Anatomy).

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