The Sopadin Grand Prix for Best Screenplay goes to La Niaque
by Fabien Lemercier
- The script by Christine Paillard and Chad Chenouga has won the Sopadin Prize, while Still shot ou la mort volée has won in the Junior category
A highly sought-after award in the French film industry, where writing is all too often underfunded and undervalued, the Sopadin Prize for Best Screenplay unveiled the list of winners of its 29th edition last night. The Grand Prix was given to La Niaque, a screenplay by Christine Paillard and Chad Chenouga (who rose to fame at Locarno in 2001 in the Filmmakers of the Present section with his feature debut, 17 rue Bleue; selected in the Directors' Fortnight in 1998 and nominated for the César Award for Best Short Film in 2000), who will film this big-screen adaptation of an autobiographical story that he wrote and directed at the theatre in 2011. The plot revolves around 16-year-old Nassim, who loses his drug-addict of a mother and is put into a home in the suburbs. But he refuses to turn into one of the "deadbeats" who surround him. He has dreamed up another life for himself, similar to the lives of his mates at the great secondary school in Paris where he is studying. There is no reason for the situation to change. His two lives – the one in the home and the other one in school – must not come into contact under any circumstances… The project is being staged by TS Productions.
A Special Jury Prize went to Après la guerre by Annarita Zambrano (a Paris-based Italian director whose shorts have been selected at Berlin in 2008, at Venice in 2009, in the Directors’ Fortnight in 2010 and in competition at Cannes in 2013) and Delphine Agut. The story sees the murder of a labour-court judge reopen old political wounds between Italy and France. Marco, a journalist and former left-wing activist taking refuge on the other side of the Alps during the Mitterrand presidency, is forced to flee with his 15-year-old daughter. In a remote, isolated house deep in the forests of the Landes, their lives will be turned upside down forever, as they also sweep along the everyday middle-class life of Anna, who finds herself in Rome to pay for the mistakes that her brother made in the past... Production is being handled by Sensito Films.
Lastly, a Special Mention served to single out La moutonnière by Sofia Djama, which is set in Algiers, a few years after the Civil War, as lead characters Amal and Samir decide to celebrate their 20th anniversary at a restaurant. During their journey, they both reminisce about their Algeria(s): Amal through the shattering of dreams, and Samir through the need to make the best of the situation. At the same time, Fahim, their son, and his friends Feriel and Reda wander Algiers, which is gradually closing in on itself... The film will be a Liaison cinématographique production.
As for the 18th Junior Award for Best Screenplay, the victor was Still Shot ou la mort volée by Iris Kaltenbäck, which tells the story of Hannah, a photojournalist returning from Gaza with an image that could well change the course of her career: that of an apparently dead Israeli soldier. But as she prepares to publish it, she finds out that this soldier was reported as missing in action because his body was never found. Filled with hope, his mother, Rébecca, leaves no stone unturned as she searches for him. Hannah heads off to meet her to break the terrible news… Production is being entrusted to Geko Films.
In the Junior category, a Special Award was handed to Entre les bêtes by Chloé Chevalier (who also came up with the original idea), Clément Schneider and Joseph Minster. Unfurling within a Europe in ruins, which has been reduced to archaic technologies and violence, the story depicts the encounter between a lone wolf who is solely interested in his own survival and a dog-woman, half-beast, half-wild child, the mysterious result of a prolonged period of confinement...
Chaired by Julie Gayet, the jury included Valérie Boyer (France 2 Cinéma), Sophie Dulac (Ecrans de Paris), Géraldine Gendre (StudioCanal), Blandine Masson (France Culture), Marie Maurice (M6 Films and SND), Nicolas Dumont (Canal+), Franck Weber (Gaumont), Renaud Delourme (Editions Montparnasse) and Pierre Murat (Télérama).
(Translated from French)