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Vigne back on big screen with Jean de La Fontaine, le défi


After many years in television, director Daniel Vigne – who first attracted public attention in 1982 with his second feature The Return of Martin Guerre (winner of three Cesars and a BAFTA nomination) – is making his cinematic comeback with Jean de La Fontaine, le défi [+see also:
film profile

Released today on 233 screens through Rezo Films, the feature stars Lorànt Deutsch, Philippe Torreton, Sarah Forestier, Jocelyn Quivrin, Jean-Claude Dreyfus and Daniel Duval. It is the latest biopic to be released in recent months after Laurent Tirard’s Molière [+see also:
film profile
on the 17th century French writer.

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Scripted by Jacques Forgeas, the film follows the confrontation between Jean de La Fontaine (Deutsch), writer of the world renowned Fables, and Colbert (Torreton), financial administrator for Louis XIV’s Kingdom of France. In 1661, Colbert gets his rival Fouquet arrested, a powerful advisor of the young king.

While all the other artists support the decision and rush to the Court, poet de La Fontaine confirms his support for Fouquet. Colbert vows to make the rebel admit the truth, but La Fontaine, even when penniless, stands by his convictions. Without money, he resists, observes and writes the Fables, which protest against a despotic government in the height of its decline.

Produced by Cinétévé, the €7.49 budget Jean de La Fontaine, le défi received pre-sales funding from Canal+ and €1.2m from France 2 Cinéma (€500,000 in co-production and €700,000 in pre-sales).

Writers are also the theme of new French releases this week, with the feature directorial debut of novelist Bernard Werber, Nos amis les Terriens [+see also:
film profile
(lit. “Our Earthman Friends”), opening on 128 screens (production and distribution by Les Films 13).

European films have also not been forgotten, with an impressive 523 prints distributed by StudioCanal of British comedy Steve Bendelack’s Mr. Bean’s Holiday [+see also:
film profile
(see news), making it the biggest release on what is a quiet Wednesday with the release of only two US titles and one Japanese/French co-production (Lou Ye’s Une jeunesse chinoise, Rosem Films).

MK2 is also releasing 19 prints of Francesca Comencini’s Italian production A Casa Nostra [+see also:
film profile
. Starring Valeria Golino and Luca Zingaretti, the film screened in competition at the 2006 RomeFilmFest (see article).

(Translated from French)

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