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Interview with Adeline Monzier, head of Unifrance's New York office

Adeline Monzier is the head of the Unifrance New York office. After graduating from Science Po and Ecole Normale Supérieur, Monzier worked at DIRE, a French syndicate of nine independent distributors, and created a network of independent European distributors: Europa Distribution. She took her current position at Unifrance in May 2013.

Now that she promotes French cinema in North America, we asked her a few questions to learn more about her work.

French Culture : You are coming from Europa Distribution, a networking and lobbying group that represents about 125 distributors in 26 European countries and in September you became the new representative for the NYC office of Unifrance. Can you talk to us about your professional career and what lead you here today?

Adeline Monzier : I always knew I wanted to work in the cultural field and film was what interested me most. So I started with internships in Paris, at the Centre National du Cinéma, a French public institution which supports film production, and then at Films Distribution, an international sales agent. Then I got hired by DIRE, a French lobby gathering 10 French independent distributors. Within DIRE, we created Europa Distribution, a European network of theatrical distributors, which I managed for 7 years. I moved to NYC in 2008 for family reasons and continued working for Europa Distribution. From this NY base, I also launched US-in-Progress in partnership with the American Film Festival in Poland and the Champs-Elysées Film Festival in France. US-in-Progress presents American independent films while they are still in post-production to European buyers, providing the producers with access to completion funding and distribution. 
My interest has always been in distribution and how to get arthouse films out there. I did focus in the past on the distribution of European films in Europe and of US films in Europe, so it seemed very natural to do the same thing in the US, and start working for the promotion of French films here!

FC : Unifrance is a large organisation whose role is to promote French cinema around the world. Can you tell us a bit more about Unifrance and about your role in particular?

AM : Unifrance films is a non-profit association, based in Paris, with agents in New York, Mumbai, Beijing and Tokyo, promoting French cinema worldwide. This association gathers more than 900 French industry professionals (producers, talents, sales agents…) who promote and support their films to the public, the industry and the international media.

The main goals of Unifrance Films are :
- Supporting international distributors for theatrical releases of French films and major film festivals showcasing new and recent French cinema.
- Increasing awareness of French cinema to the international press (organizing some regional press junkets with French talents), international exhibitors (conventions in 12 countries) and film buyers for Web and VOD.
- Producing French film festivals in theaters from different countries (United States, Germany, Italy, UK, Russia, Japan, China…) and online (MyFrenchFilmFestival.com).
- Organizing master classes with French directors in film schools and international universities abroad.
- Promoting and subtitling French short films for film festivals, markets and festivals online.

My role in the US is to connect with all the key players involved in the distribution and diffusion of French films. We are of course supporting commercial releases of French films in US cinemas, but we are also looking for new innovative ways to release French films and to engage younger audiences. We are talking to cinema owners, both arthouses and multiplexes, to establish a stronger relationship with them. We are also in discussion with all the major VOD platforms in order to increase the presence of French cinema online. We are working with schools on screenings of French animated films in order to target young audiences and to build the cinephiles of tomorrow. 

FC : As a cinephile and supporter of European and French cinema, you get to see a lot of films, usually before their releases.  Do you have any personal highlights from the recent or upcoming films that you have seen that you could share with us?

AM: Among the French films that just opened and that will be released very soon, it's interesting to underline the richness and great variety of French cinema: From the passionate and controversial Blue is the warmest colour, to the beautiful and tender animated film Ernest and Celestine (opening in Dec), from the powerful documentary The Missing Picture (opening in March) to the strange and haunting Stranger by the Lake (opening in January), from the popular Violette (opening in May), based on Pagnol's books about the true story of the relationship between Violette Leduc and Simon De Beauvoir. The diversity of French cinema makes it one of the most interesting cinematic traditions in the world!

Unifrance is the organisation in charge of promoting French cinema throughout the world.
Created in 1949, in the form of an association under the law of 1901, Unifrance is under the supervision of the CNC (Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée). The association has nearly 600 members: producers of feature films and shorts, exporters, sales agents, directors, actors, authors (screenwriters) and talent agents.