Sarah’s Key from Toronto to San Sebastian
by Fabien Lemercier
Unveiled today in the Galas section at the Toronto Film Festival (September 9-19), Gilles Paquet-Brenner’s sixth feature Sarah’s Key [+see also:
film profile] will then cross the Atlantic and close the 58th San Sebastian Film Festival (September 17-25) out of competition, before being launched in French theatres on October 13 by UGC Distribution.
Adapted from Tatiana de Rosnay’s eponymous best-seller, the film – whose US rights have just been acquired by The Weinstein Company – stars Brit actress Kristin Scott Thomas (currently on screens in Love Crime [+see also:
film profile]), alongside young thesp Mélusine Mayance (Ricky [+see also:
film profile]), Niels Arestrup (A Prophet), Frédéric Pierrot, Michel Duchaussoy, Dominique Frot, Gisèle Casadesus and Aidan Quinn.
Co-written by the director and Serge Joncour, the film opens in present-day Paris with Julia Jarmond, an American journalist who has been living in France for 20 years and is investigating the harrowing episode of Vél’ d’Hiv (recently explored in cinema in The Round Up [+see also:
film profile]). As she retraces events, her path crosses that of Sarah, a little girl who was ten years old in July 1942. For Julia, what was originally just the subject of an article then becomes a personal issue, revealing a family mystery.
Paquet-Brenner explained: "Until now, films about the Holocaust were always – and vitally so – about History with a capital H. Personally, I didn’t feel comfortable with this. It has been explored many times and in my opinion, Schindler’s List is unsurpassable".
He continued: "So I asked myself what small stone I could contribute to this edifice. And I came up with the idea of trying to make people feel this tragedy, moving away from the major discourses and bringing back its concrete and palpable aspect, on a human level, enabling viewers to feel in contact with events, regardless of their opinions or origins. Kristin’s character is American and non-Jewish. So the story of Sarah and the Shoah isn’t her story, but she is touched indirectly. This could happen to anyone."
Sarah’s Key was produced by Stéphane Marsil for Hugo Productions for around €10.2m. The budget included co-production support from France 2 Cinéma, Studio 37 and TF1 Droits Audiovisuels, pre-acquisitions from Canal + and TPS Star, and backing from the Ile-de-France region and Sofica A Plus Image.
(Translated from French)
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