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CANNES 2016 France

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A French tidal wave heads for the Directors’ Fortnight

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- With five majority productions, a parity production with Switzerland and six minority ones, France has got all bases covered on the Directors’ Fortnight programme

A French tidal wave heads for the Directors’ Fortnight
Divines by Houda Benyamina

France does not content itself with producing its own national talents; to a great extent, it is also involved in the funding of arthouse films from the rest of Europe, and indeed the world, as demonstrated by the list of movies selected for the 48th Directors’ Fortnight (12-22 May, as part of the 69th Cannes Film Festival). Indeed, of the 18 features in the showcase, five are majority French productions, one is a parity production with Switzerland, and six are minority French. 

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Standing out on the 100% French line-up are two feature debuts. The first is Divines [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Houda Benyamina
film profile
]
by Houda Benyamina. Starring Oulaya Amamra and Majdouline Idrissi, the film (the screenplay for which was written by the director, Romain Compingt and Malik Rumeau) revolves around Dounia, who is hungry for power and success in a ghetto where drug trafficking and religion rub shoulders. With the help of her best friend, she decides to follow in the footsteps of a highly respected drug dealer. But her encounter with a young dancer will turn her everyday life upside down... Produced by Marc-Benoît Créancier for Easy Tiger, Divines had a budget of €2.44 million, including a co-production by France 2 Cinéma, an advance on receipts from the CNC, and backing from the Centre and Ile-de-France regions. Distribution in France will be handled by Diaphana, while the international sales are being managed by German company Films Boutique.

Another feature debut is Mercenaire [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Sacha Wolff
film profile
]
, written and directed by Sacha Wolff, who has taken a gamble on newcomer Toki Pilioko in the lead role. It tells the story of the misfortunes of a young man who leaves New Caledonia for mainland France to try his luck in the world of rugby. Produced by Claire Bodechon for Timshel Productions and by Jean Bréhat for 3B Productions, the film had a budget of €1.99 million, including a co-production by Arte France Cinéma, among others, an advance on receipts from the CNC, and backing from the Aquitaine region. The French distribution will be handled by Ad Vitam, while the international sales are being managed by Be For Films

After he presented Hold Back [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Rachid Djaïdani
festival scope
film profile
]
there in 2012, Rachid Djaïdani is heading back to the Fortnight with his second feature, Tour de France [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Rachid Djaïdani
film profile
]
, which stars Sadek and Gérard Depardieu. The former plays a 20-year-old French-Arab rapper who is forced to leave Paris for a while and whose producer suggests that he stand in for him and drive his father, a retired docker, around all the ports in France, on the trail of painter Joseph Vernet. Produced by Anne-Dominique Toussaint for Les Films des Tournelles, the feature had a budget of €3.27 million, including a pre-purchase by Canal+. Mars Films will release it in France, and Cité Films is in charge of its international sales.

French film production will also be on the line-up in the guise of The Together Project [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
by late French-American-Icelandic director Solveig Anspach. Boasting a cast including Florence Loiret-Caille, Samir Guesmi, Philippe Rebbot and Didda Jonsdottir, the film is the third instalment in a trilogy of offbeat comedies that began with Back Soon [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
and Queen of Montreuil [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Solveig Anspach
film profile
]
. Penned by the director and Jean-Luc Gaget, the story depicts a crane operator’s desperate efforts to chat up and win the heart of a feisty swimming instructor at the local swimming pool. Produced by Patrick Sobelman for Ex Nihilo, The Together Project had a budget of €1.53 million, including a co-production by Iceland’s Zik Zak, a pre-purchase by OCS and backing from the Icelandic Film Center. The movie will be released in France on 29 June by Le Pacte, which is also in charge of its international sales.

With mystery still surrounding the exact production details, the documentary Les vies de Thérèse [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
by Sébastien Lifshitz revolves around feminist campaigner Thérèse Clerc, who passed away in February this year and who appeared in the director’s previous film, Les invisibles [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
(presented as an official selection special screening at Cannes in 2012, and winner of the César Award for Best Documentary in 2013).

Also of note is a Swiss-French parity production: the animated stop-motion film My Life as a Courgette [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Claude Barras
film profile
]
by Claude Barras, written by Céline Sciamma (together with the director and Germano Zulio), which had a budget of €5.34 million, including executive productions by Blue Spirit Animation and Gebeka Films (which will take care of the French distribution), co-productions by France 3 Cinéma, Rhône-Alpes Cinéma and Helium Films, as well as pre-purchases by Canal+ and Ciné+. Its international sales are being overseen by Indie Sales.

Six minority French co-productions will also be taking part in the 2016 Fortnight, in particular two Italian features: Sweet Dreams [+see also:
film review
trailer
Q&A: Marco Bellocchio
film profile
]
by Marco Bellocchio (starring Bérénice Bejo and Emmanuelle Devos – co-produced by Ad Vitam, which will release it in France on 14 December) and Like Crazy [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
Q&A: Paolo Virzì
film profile
]
by Paolo Virzi (co-produced by Manny Films – sold by Bac Films, which will also be releasing it on 8 June in France).

Meanwhile, L'économie du couple [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Joachim Lafosse
film profile
]
by Belgium’s Joachim Lafosse, toplined by Bérénice Bejo and Cédric Kahn, was 46% co-produced by France via Les Films du Worso, pre-purchased by Canal+ and Ciné+, and backed by the CNC’s advance on receipts. Its sales are managed by Le Pacte. And Afghan writer-director-producer Shahrbanoo Sadat's feature debut, Wolf and Sheep [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Shahrbanoo Sadat
film profile
]
has been co-produced by France’s La Fabrica Nocturna.

Lastly, Neruda [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
by Chile’s Pablo Larrain was co-produced by Funny Balloons (which is selling it abroad, with French distribution acquired by Wild Bunch), and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Endless Poetry [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
had Satory Films on board as co-producer.

(Translated from French)

Producers on the Move
 

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