Belvaux works on new film Rapt!
by Fabien Lemercier
15/04/2008 - After the gangster hold-ups of The Right of the Weakest [trailer] (in competition at Cannes in 2006) and the television drama Les Prédateurs (about the Elf affair), Belgian director Lucas Belvaux explores the famous 1978 kidnapping of Baron Empain in his new film Rapt!.
Produced by French company Agat Films and Belgium’s Entre Chien et Loup, the feature will start shooting in October and is set to star Yvan Attal (Anthony Zimmer, Munich, My Wife is an Actress [trailer]), the main character who in the film goes by the name Baron Graf.
Heir to the Empain-Schneider dynasty, Belgian-born Baron Édouard-Jean Empain – who at the time headed an empire of over 300 companies – was kidnapped on January 23,1978, in front of his Paris home. The ransom demand (€12m) sent along with the baron’s amputated little finger led to a game of hide-and-seek and a series of botched meetings between the police and the kidnappers, lasting two months. This culminated in a shooting and an arrest, followed by Empain’s release.
But the investigation and the press who picked up the story had uncovered the baron’s secret pleasures: poker, gambling debts and extramarital affairs. These indiscretions tarnished his reputation, ruined his relationship with his family and, added to the impact of his kidnapping, drove him to change his lifestyle and reconsider the power he wielded before his abduction.
The baron said: "My presence alone had people falling at my feet! When a minister asked me for something and I said no, he didn’t insist. I’ve always been a gambler. In 1978, I had a few debts here and there. I didn’t really know how to settle them, but as I was considered God himself, it didn’t matter." The man and story have inspired what is Belvaux’s seventh cinematic feature.
Produced by Patrick Sobelman for Agat Films and Diana Elbaum for Entre Chien et Loup (the two companies who co-produced Belvaux’s four latest features), Rapt! will be made on a budget of €6m. Shooting will begin on October 6 in Belgium.
Distribution and international sales are still under negotiation.
(Translated from French)