If last week is any indication, Franco-American relations are on the mend, at least in Hollywood.

TV5Monde USA, America's only French language channel, will be the sole channel in the U.S. to air live coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies at the 60th annual Cannes Film Festival. "My Blueberry Nights" is expected to be the fest's opening film.

On May 16, TV5Monde will broadcast the opening ceremony live via satellite from Cannes; the closing ceremony will be carried on May 27 beginning at 10 p.m. Didier Allouch, the Los Angeles-based film correspondent for Canal Plus, will be reporting from the festival as part of TV5's coverage.

The network, which launched in France in 1984 and debuted in the U.S. in 2001, is seen in 171 million households in 200 countries worldwide, making it the second largest global network in number of subscribers. The network has been slower to catch on in the United States, though, with about 250,000 subscribers domestically. TV5 is available on cable systems including Comcast, Time Warner and Cox, as well as on satellite via Dish Network. The channel's U.S. headquarters are based in Los Angeles, and the channel is also a sponsor of this year's City of Lights, City of Angels Film Festival. It's a showcase for French cinema that spotlights full-length features and shorts each spring in Los Angeles. The event, in its 11th year, is now Hollywood's largest event dedicated to foreign cinema. The festival was created in 1996 by the Franco-American Cultural Fund, a collaborative effort between the Directors Guild of America, the Motion Picture Association of America, the Writers Guild of America, West, and France's Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music.

French Connection

Withoutabox Inc., the Internet company that helps independent and would-be filmmakers connect to the entertainment industry, is getting on the Cannes bandwagon, too.

The firm has partnered with The Short Film Corner, a division of the Cannes Film Festival. Withoutabox allows filmmakers to submit trailers, production notes, synopses, bios, marketing materials and film fest applications online. Withoutabox Inc. will handle the event's film registration process, including solicitation, management and promotion of films. Cannes organizers will be able to track, manage and program the Short Film Corner using the services. The films registered for the event will be marketed on Audience, Withoutabox's social networking community targeting independent filmmakers.

The Short Film Corner will take place May 16-26, and short titles included in the Official Competition, the Cin & #233;fondation, the Director's Fortnight and Critic's Week also will be screened in the Short Film Corner. Daily panels will feature directors and producers discussing short film issues, including financing, emerging media and music.

Launched in 2004 by the Cannes Film Festival, the Short Film Corner is a 10-day short film market and meeting place for the professionals registered with the Cannes Film Festival and the March & #233; du Film to showcase short films to potential buyers, festival programmers, producers and distributors. About 550 films have been registered with the festival's Short Film Corner as of last week.

Love, France

The Tennis Channel and satellite television provider DirecTV Inc. cemented a multi-year distribution agreement that begins with a "Sneak Peek" of the French Open, May 27 to June 10, followed by the launch of Tennis Channel later this summer.

The free "Sneak Peek," available to 16 million DirecTV subscribers, will offer the Tennis Channel's coverage of the tournament one of four Grand Slam events with more than 100 hours from the clay-court competition, including live daily coverage and a prime-time highlights and events program each evening, "French Open Tonight."

As part of the Sneak Peek, DirecTV will offer French Open Interactive, providing viewers expanded coverage and features, such as the French Open Mix Channel, designed to enhance tennis fans' enjoyment of the game.

Tennis Channel also announced the pending launch of a second, high-definition network, which will be available to DirecTV subscribers in December.

Last year the Santa Monica-based cable network inked a deal that brought it onto 30 new cable systems, widening its reach to 10 million households. The channel also scored rights to the French Open last year in a deal that spans up to nine years and gives the channel broadband and video-on-demand rights to the tournament.

Staff reporter Anne Riley-Katz can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 225, or at ariley-katz@labusinessjournal.com

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