Pathé launches spy film Farewell on 460 screens
by Fabien Lemercier
With wide critical approval and Pathé Distribution’s 460-print run, the director hopes his third feature will scale the same box office heights as One Swallow Brought Spring (2.4m admissions in 2001) and Happy Christmas [trailer, film focus] (over 2m viewers in 2005).
Adapted from Sergueï Kostine’s Bonjour Farewell by Eric Raynaud and Carion, the film is based on real-life events that occurred in the early 1980s when a KGB colonel provided French counter-intelligence with crucial information about Soviet spying in western countries.
"I was freely inspired by known or presumed facts, without betraying what I consider to be the central issue: the historical impact of this affair," commented the director, who used president Mitterrand and Reagan look-alikes in his film ("I admire Anglo-Saxon filmmakers, who aren’t afraid to make films that are unashamedly anchored in their political world").
"In reality, I don’t think we will ever know the whole truth about the Farewell affair," insisted Carion, whose production was hindered by the intervention of several Russians, which meant they couldn’t shoot part of the film in Moscow and had to settle for Ukraine and Finland instead.
As for the characters played by Kusturica and Canet, the director doesn’t consider them heroes: "They find themselves caught up in a matter that both fascinates and eludes them."
Produced by Christophe Rossignon for Nord-Ouest Films in co-production with Le Bureau, Farewell had a budget of €17.8m. This included backing from France 2 Cinéma, Canal +, Ciné Cinéma and the Ile-de-France region. Pathé is handling international sales.
Today also sees the release of Rachid Bouchareb’s outstanding London River [trailer] (Silver Bear for Best Actor at the Berlinale 2009 - see review - Tadrart Films on 37 screens); Philippe Godeau’s moving film One for the Road [trailer] (see news), starring François Cluzet as a journalist determined to free himself from his alcohol addiction (Wild Bunch Distribution on 200 screens); and Osvalde Lewat’s French/Cameroonian documentary Black Business (distributed by Les Films du Paradoxe).
The line-up also includes two US features unveiled at Venice and Cannes: Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker and Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock.
(Translated from French)