The Cannes Film Market has proved to be a happy hunting ground for almost all the Australian independent distributors.

StudioCanal and Rialto Distribution were among the most active Oz buyers, each snapping up five films from the US and Europe, featuring such stars as Robert Downey Jr, Justin Timberlake, Scarlett Johansson and Shirley MacLaine. 

“There was no stand-out title that everyone was chasing but there were a lot of good films,” Studiocanal managing director Robert Slaviero told IF. As a result, Slaviero observed, “There were no bidding wars; it was all very civilised.” 

Slaviero pounced on The Chef, an upcoming comedy written and directed by Jon Favreau, co-starring Downey, Johansson and Sofia Vergara. Favreau plays a guy who loses his chef job and launches a food truck business while he tries to reconnect with his estranged family.

MacLaine and Christopher Plummer star in Elsa & Fred, a romantic comedy directed by Michael Radford, a remake of a Spanish-Argentine hit film. MacLaine plays a bubbly retiree in New Orleans with Plummer as a strait-laced widower who moves into her apartment building.

How to Make Love Like an Englishman is a rom-com that features Pierce Brosnan as a hedonistic Cambridge University professor who meets his match in Kristin Scott Thomas and is forced to re-evaluate his lifestyle after getting Jessica Alba, her graduate student stepsister, pregnant.

Timberlake stars in Spinning Gold, a biopic of colourful record company executive Neil Bogart, who was instrumental in the rise of disco. Slaviero is in final negotiations for one other title, “a cracker,” which he declines to reveal. 

Also on his slate are two StudioCanal productions which were on sale in Cannes: The Gunman, which stars Sean Penn as an ex-government contract killer whose past comes back to haunt him, and Shaun the Sheep, an animated feature based on the plucky woolly creature seen in Nick Park's Oscar-winning short film A Close Shave, co-produced with the UK’s Aardman Animations.

Rialto snapped by Japanese writer-director Kore-eda Hirokazu’s Like Father, Like Son, which won the Jury Prize in Cannes. The drama, which focuses on two families who discover their 6-year-old sons were switched at birth, features Fukuyama Masaharu, Ono Machiko, Maki Yoko and Lily Franky.

Gerard Lanvin plays a cantankerous hospital patient in Get Well Soon from French director Jean Becker, who did My Afternoons With Margueritte.

Also in Rialto’s fold is Ken Loach’s next film Jimmy’s Hall, the true story of James Gralton, the only person ever deported from Ireland to the US.

Gralton was an Irish Communist leader who took US citizenship after emigrating there in 1909. After a shooting, he was arrested and deported to the US in 1933.

Spanish filmmaker Santiago Zannou’s Scorpion In Love is an adaption of Carlos Bardem’s novel about a former neo-Nazi gang member who turns to boxing in an effort to reinvent himself after a spell in prison. Carlos Bardem (brother of Javier Bardem) plays a former boxing champ who befriends the young neo-Nazi (Alex Gonzalez), with Javier Bardem as a neo-Nazi chief. 

Michael Kohlhass, which screened in competition in Cannes, stars Mads Mikkelsen as a 16th Century horse trader in France who amasses a rebel army after his wife is killed. 

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