Auteuil on both sides of camera in Well-Digger’s Daughter
by Fabien Lemercier
A highlight among today’s 13 new releases is the directorial debut by one of French cinema’s major actors. Launched on 513 screens by Pathé Films, The Well-Digger’s Daughter [+see also:
film profile] also marks a return to his beginnings for 61-year-old Daniel Auteuil, back to the work of Marcel Pagnol which brought him fame and a Best Actor Cesar in 1987 for Jean de Florette.
A remake of a 1940 Pagnol film, The Well-Digger’s Daughter centres on 18-year-old Patricia, who is seduced and impregnated by Jacques Mazel, a fighter pilot who immediately leaves again for the war. At first, the boy’s rich parents accuse her of blackmail.
Patricia and her father the well-digger are therefore the only ones who rejoice and welcome the child into the world. However, the Mazel family soon envy them as Jacques is reported missing.
Besides Auteuil as the well-digger, the cast also includes Kad Merad, Sabine Azéma, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Nicolas Duvauchelle and Astrid Bergès-Frisbey. Produced by A.S. Films (Alain Sarde) for €12.5m, the film was co-produced by TF1 Films Production, Zack Films and Pathé (who are handling international sales).
"It’s a beautiful story of love, tenderness, sorrow and forgiveness," said Auteuil. "There’s something universal in Pagnol’s work, which means that 70 years later we’re still entertained and moved. Whatever the era, feelings are always the same, lovers are always the same, parents are always the same, the rich and poor too."
With regard to his directing, he confesses having "discovered a fascination for filming faces, and certain landscapes that are like faces". He also defends the film’s classic style: "I wanted fluidity, movement, but no effects, crane or Steadicam. I was aiming for both lyricism and simplicity. My obsessions were all about life, truth, the authenticity of feelings and nature". This directorial debut is just the beginning of the adventure, for Pathé has announced that, from 2012, Auteuil will direct three more Pagnol remakes: Marius, Fanny and César.
Three other French features are also hitting theatres today: Céline Sciamma’s outstanding Tomboy [+see also:
interview: Céline Sciamma
film profile] (acclaimed in this year’s Berlinale Panorama and launched by Pyramide on 77 screens); Jennifer Devoldere’s Et Soudain Tout Le Monde Me Manque (“And Suddenly I Miss Everyone”), starring Michel Blanc and Mélanie Laurent (see news – UGC Distribution in 266 theatres); and Pascale Pouzadoux’s comedy La Croisière [+see also:
film profile] (“The Cruise”, Mars Distribution on a 380-print run).
A trio of top-quality non-domestic European titles complete the line-up, with Austrian director Feo Aladag’s German production When We Leave [+see also:
interview: Feo Aladag
interview: Feo Aladag
film profile] (European Parliament Lux Prize 2010 and Europa Cinemas Label Award in the Berlinale Panorama – Wild Bunch Distribution in 50 theatres); The Black Sheep [+see also:
film profile] by Italy’s Ascanio Celestini (in competition at Venice: see review – Bellissima Films on 20 screens); and All That I Love [+see also:
film profile] by Poland’s Jacek Borcuch (see video interview and review – Fondivina Films on a 17-print run).
(Translated from French)
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