Shoot due to start soon for Mercenaire
by Fabien Lemercier
- A highly original project in the French film landscape, Sacha Wolff’s feature debut is produced by Timshel Productions and 3B Productions
On 20 March, the shoot will kick off for Sacha Wolff’s Mercenaire [+see also:
interview: Sacha Wolff
film profile] in the Lot-et-Garonne department in France. This feature debut tackles a subject that is rarely encountered in the young French film landscape, as it recounts the misfortunes of a young man who leaves New Caledonia to try his luck playing rugby in mainland France. The lead roles have been entrusted to actual professional rugby players Toki Pilioko and Laurent Pakihivatau, who are props (the former is a budding 19-year-old player, while the latter, at 41, has much of his career behind him).
Written by the director (a graduate of the Fémis film school, where he directed three shorts), the screenplay (which was read out at the most recent Angers Premiers Plans Festival) revolves around Soane, a young New Caledonian of Wallisian heritage, who defies his father’s authority and heads off to mainland France to play rugby. While his journey forces him to confront the abandonment of his loved ones, he also discovers the brotherhood of a team, the love of a woman and the violence of the sport itself – as well as that which lurks within him. As his quest progresses, the price he has to pay for this freedom that he has desired for so long will become clear.
Explaining the intentions behind the project, Sacha Wolff insisted it was important “to be able to bring this Pacific Islands-focused film to fruition, as it is a region whose codes and characters are forgotten by cinema, literature and art in general. Making Soane into a hero means taking an almost-untrodden path in the film industry; it means allowing people to see and understand the issues inherent in this secret, little-known world. For me, it means taking on a genre that actually isn’t one, given that it is not depicted, but it is one that I am sure offers an endless cinematic wealth.”
Produced by Claire Bodechon for Timshel Productions and by Jean Bréhat for 3B Productions, Mercenaire is benefiting from a co-production and a pre-purchase by Arte France Cinéma. The CNC’s advance on receipts also features among the support measures it has received, and other backers include the Gan Foundation for Cinema, Emergence, the Aquitaine region, the Lot-et-Garonne department, the South Province of New Caledonia and the Lower Normandy region (which provided writing grants). Distribution in France and international sales are at a very advanced stage of negotiations. The shoot will continue in France until the end of April and will start up again for two weeks in New Caledonia in June.
While this is the first feature staged by Timshel Productions, 3B has Simon by Eric Martin and Emmanuel Caussé (read the article) in post-production, and is set to shoot the TV film La route des lacs [+see also:
film profile] by Rachid Bouchareb in April and Bruno Dumont’s movie Dans la baie de la Slack - Ma loute [+see also:
Q&A: Bruno Dumont
film profile] (read the news) next summer.
(Translated from French)