Rights Roundup: At Cannes, Agents and Publishers Pitch Titles To Film Execs

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Graphic novels, a dark debut from a 25-year-old Parisian, a nonfiction work on what social genetics says about contemporary debates, and a Korean work about saving our seas all figure into today’s roundup.

Authors and illustrators represented in today’s Rights Roundup are, clockwise from upper left, Claire Berest; Fabien Nury; illustrator Sylvain Vallée; Victor Jestin; Fran Kimmel (image: Monique du St. Croix); Jean-Claude Mourlevat; illustrator Thomas Trappe and Johannes Krause; and Antonio Altarriba

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Illustrations, Serials, Seductions
As we wrote earlier this month, during the Cannes Film Festival last month, Frankfurter Buchmesse made a first foray into the French program, leading a tour there for eight publishers from six countries including this year’s Guest of Honor Norway and next year’s Guest of Honor Canada.

In Cannes, Frankfurt’s key partner is the Société Civile des Editeurs de Langue Française (SCELF) and the Institut Français, in cooperation with Marché du Film and the Festival de Cannes. The pitching event is called Shoot the Book—complete with exclamation point—and the networking event is the Shoot the Book Rendezvous.

And for our Rights Roundup today, we invited some of the agents and rights directors who were in Cannes to present some of the titles they’re presenting this summer ahead of Frankfurter Buchmesse—some for film interest and most of them for foreign rights consideration.

You’ll notice that this gives us an unusually rich representation in French material this month, and we also have an English-language Canadian work and an ecologically minded South Korean title for young readers.

As in each roundup, we use some of the promotional copy supplied to us by agents and rights directors, editing that copy to give you an idea about a book’s nature and tone. If you’d like to submit a deal to Publishing Perspectives, see the instructions at the end of this article.

Nothing Is Black
(Rien n’est noir)

By Claire Berest

  • Publisher: Éditions Stock, Paris
  • Rights contact: Maÿlis Vauterin
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Italy: Neri Pozza, at auction, a two-book deal
  • German: Suhrkamp, in a pre-empt
  • Hungarian: an ongoing auction

At Cannes, Stock’s Maÿlis Vauterin pitched Dominique de Saint-Pern’s Edmonde, and Alain-Fabien Delon’s Of the Race of Masters.

For our roundup today, Vauterin offers Claire Berest’s meditation on Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Picking up the artist’s story after her devastating bus accident, Kahlo, per promotional materials, “has lost everything: her body, her fiancé Alejandro and her bold spirit. But while recuperating, she discovers the power of color. And as if  obsessed, she knows that her future is with Mexico’s most famous muralist, the lady’s man Diego Rivera.

“And so she sets out to find him and gives him no choice but to love her in return. Together they’ll experience wild parties, success, scandal, travel, and affairs. They’ll tear each other part and get back together. And they’ll paint.”


By Fabien Nury and illustrator Sylvain Vallée

  • Publisher: Dargaud
  • Rights contact: Hélène de Saint-Vincent, Mediatoon Audiovisual Rights, Paris
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Swedish: Albumforlaget
  • Croatian: Naklada Fibra DOO
  • Danish: Daraos Cigarer)
  • Dutch: Ballon Media)
  • German: Splitter Verlag)
  • Polish: Taurus Media
  • Serbian: Darkwood Comics
  • Spanish: Norma Editorial)
  • Ukrainian: Z Dipa Publishing House

While in Cannes Laurent Duvault of Mediatoon was presenting several properties including Room 128 by Cathy Bonidan. And the house has sent us this look at the graphic trilogy Katanga, set in 1960, when, after 90 years of Belgian colonial rule. The Congo proclaims its independence, and less than two weeks later, the rich mining province of Katanga secedes.

“Congo and Katanga immediately go to war,” we read in promotional materials. “At the heart of the conflict: the possession of the diamond mining territories. Many massacres of civilians ensue. The UN then imposes its mediation and sends blue helmets. At the same time, a group of despicable mercenaries is recruited to free the occupied mine. And a black servant, Charlie, puts his hand on a treasure: $30 million in diamonds, which makes him the most wanted black in Katanga.”

Moi, Feu
(Me, Crazy)

By Antonio Altarriba, with illustrations by Keko
Translated from the Spanish by Alexandra Carrasco

  • Publisher: Denoël, Paris
  • Rights contact: Judith Becqueriaux
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Portuguese: Ala Dos Livros
  • German: Avant Verlag
  • Spanish: Norma Editorial

At Cannes, emphasis for producers from Editions Denoël was focused on Sandrine Collette’s Animal and Sonja Delzongle’s Cataractes.

Here, Judith Becqueriaux offers Moi, Feu, a graphic novel in which, according to promotional materials, “Angel Molinos, a psychologist and a failed writer, works for the Observatory of Mental Disorders, a research center affiliated with the Pfizin Laboratories of Houston, which tracks the evolution of mental illnesses and tests new molecules in human guinea pigs. Its mission is to identify new ‘pathologizable’ profiles to help Pfizin expand its pharmacopoeia.

“This story of Big Pharma cutting into our lives and our psyches to optimize its profits could unfold everywhere, but its political tones add a layer to the unvarnished portrait of contemporary Spain that Altarriba traces from book to book.”

The Journey of Our Genes
(Die Reise unserer Gene)

By Johannes Krause and Thomas Trappe

  • Publisher: Ullstein Buchverlage, Berlin
  • Rights contact: Annemarie Blumenhagen
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – English: Cinebook
  • Korean: Bookis Bab/Orangepaper
  • Estonian: Aripaev
  • Russian: Portal Publishing
  • Chinese: Beijing Qianqiu Zhiye
  • Turkish: SAY

While Agnieszka Golosch from Ullstein was presenting works of Joannaes Böhme and Irmgard Keun at Cannes, the house’s Annemarie Blumenagen has contacted us about a nonfiction title that gets at the peculiar place of migration in today’s current affairs, from, as she writes, “Donald Trump’s relentless crusade against ‘caravans’ of migrants to Brexit and the fear-mongering spread by various right-wing parties.

“Migration has become a negative buzzword. Johannes Krause and Thomas Trappe prove that migration is not a modern-era phenomenon.

“Since Homo erectus, mankind was always on the move, and spread from his native Africa into the whole world.”

Promotional copy about the book says the authors “tell us what genes [reveal] about our origins: Are there ‘native people?’ When did the early Europeans lose their dark skin? What role has the Balkan route played in the past 40,000 years? A great narrative that shows that without the immigrants who came to Europe from all directions for millennia and brought innovations over and over again, our continent would be unthinkable.”

The Upside Down River

By Jean-Claude Mourlevat

  • Publisher: Pocket Jeunesse, Paris
  • Rights contact: Julie Buffaud, Univers Poche
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Chinese: Hunan Literature and Art
  • Czech:  Baobab
  • Russian: Samokat
  • Turkish: Can Yayinlari

At Cannes, Julie Buffaud of Paris’ Univers Poche presented The Enchanter by Stephen Carrière and Crazy Old Folks by Charlye Ménétrier McGrath.
For our roundup today, she’s chosen Jean-Claude Mourlevat’s serialized children’s animation series from Dandelooo and Canal+.

This collection brings the series together, telling the story of Tomek and Hannah, young explorers who encounter–from the promotional material now–the Forest of Forgetting, the Village of Perfumers, the Nonexistent Island” and more.

“This is a fabulous trip that will lead Tomek and Hannah, two young orphans, to the end of the world. Will they find this river flowing upside down? And does its water promise immortality? Or something else they were not looking for?”

La Chaleur (Heat)

By Victor Jestin

  • Publisher: Flammarion, Paris
  • Rights contact: Laure Saget for audiovisual rights; Florence Giry for foreign literary rights
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – World English: Scribner
  • Italian: E/O
  • German: Kein & Aber

At Cannes’ Shoot the Book sessions, Flammarion’s Laure Saget was presenting Wolfdog by Serge Joncour and The Guerlain Story by Elisabeth de Feydeau.

Here, she (for audiovisual rights) and her associate Florence Giry (for international rights) are offering the debut novel from Victor Jestin, 25, whose influences, he says, are Camus, Genet, and Louis Malle’s film adaptation of Le Feu follet. Jestin is drawn to contrasts in young adulthood, in looking back on his teens as years when “desires went with violence, laughter with anguish. It was enjoyable and terrible at the same time.”

Promotional copy about the book calls it “the story of a teenager, Leonard, 17, from outside the world in which he finds himself, a teen who doesn’t know how to play the game–that of seduction, parties, holidays.”

The opening lines of the book: “Oscar died because I watched him die, without moving. He died strangled by the ropes of a swing.”

No Good Asking

By Fran Kimmel

  • Publisher: ECW Press, Toronto
  • Rights contact: Emily Ferko
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – UAE/Arabic: Dar Molhimon Publishing
  • German: DTV Verlagsgesellschaft MBH & Co.
  • Dutch, book club audiobook rights: BookChoice

At Cannes, Canada’s Emily Ferko presented Fran Kimmel’s No Good Asking as “heart-warming commercial women’s fiction,” and with Arabic, German, and Dutch deals in place, she’s signaling it to us today as a key title.

In promotional material, we read, “Ellie and Eric Nyland have moved their two sons back to Eric’s childhood farmhouse, hoping for a fresh start. But there’s no denying it, their family is falling apart, each one of them isolated by private sorrows, stresses, and missed signals. With every passing day, Ellie’s hopes are buried deeper in the harsh winter snows.

“When Eric finds Hannah Finch, the girl across the road, wandering alone in the bitter cold, his rusty police instincts kick in, and he soon discovers there are bad things happening in the girl’s house. With nowhere else to send her, the Nylands reluctantly agree to let Hannah stay with them until she can find a new home after the Christmas holidays. But Hannah proves to be more balm than burden, and the Nylands discover that the only thing harder than taking Hannah in may be letting her go.”

Plastics: Past, Present, and Future

By Eun-ju Kim, illustrated by Ji-won Lee

  • Publisher: Wooongjin Thinkbig, Paju, South Korea
  • Rights contact: Stephanie Barrouillet, S.B.Rights Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – UK, Commonwealth, North America English: Scribble
  • China/Simplified Chinese: Liaoning Science and Technology
  • Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau/Complex Chinese: Sun Ya Publishing
  • Portuguese, Brazil: Editora Moderna
  • Polish: Babaryba
  • World French: Gallimard
  • World Spanish: CIDCLI
  • Turkish: Tekir

While this one wasn’t engaged in Cannes last month, we asked to include it because it answers a need for young reader’s literature on climate and conservation issues–in this case perhaps of special interest to supporters of the 4Ocean project working with plastic waste in the Earth’s seas.

Based in Tel-Aviv, agent Stephanie Barrouillet, whose list frequently features works touching on contemporary issues for young readers, this time is presenting a work from South Korea. This environment-conscious book for young readers follows plastic toys across the ocean for months, letting readers learn about the life cycle and history of plastics–their invention, their many uses, and the damage that plastic waste is doing to the environment.

According to National Geographic, some 91 percent of the world’s plastic isn’t recycled. “Plastics, which began just six decades ago,” writes Laura Parker for National Geographic, “has accelerated so rapidly that it has created 8.3 billion metric tons—most of it in disposable products that end up as trash.”

Submit Rights Deals to Publishing Perspectives

Do you have rights deals to report? Agents and rights directors can use our rights deal submission form to send us the information we need. If you have questions, please send them to Porter@PublishingPerspectives.com

As you can see, it’s of high importance in titles we choose to list that an image be made available to us, both of the book’s cover and of its author. In a sale listing, we also require not only the language/territory into which the title has been sold but also the name of the publisher to which the title has been sold in that territory.

The correct format is:

  • Country, Language or Territory: Publisher

We look forward to hearing from you.

More of Publishing Perspectives‘ rights roundups are here, more from us on rights issues overall is here, and more on books to screen issues and adaptations is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.