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BERLINALE 2007 Competition / France

Téchine and Rivette feature in line-up

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The French contingent in competition at the 57th Berlin International Film Festival (February 8-18, 2007) grew larger yesterday with André Téchiné’s Les Témoins [+see also:
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(lit. “The Witnesses”) and Jacques Rivette’s Ne touchez pas la hache [+see also:
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(lit. “Don’t Touch the Ax”), joining other Bear hunter Olivier Dahan’s La Vie en Rose [+see also:
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(see news).

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As predicted by Cineuropa on December 18, Les témoins will mark Téchiné’s return to the Berlin competition two years after Changing Times [+see also:
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. Starring Emmanuelle Béart (her third feature with the director), Sami Bouajila, Michel Blanc and Julie Depardieu, the French/Spanish/Italian co-production (SBS Films/Vertigo/Edelweiss) depicts the start of the AIDS epidemic in Marseille during the eighties.

Co-written by the director, Laurent Guyot and Viviane Zig, the film revolves around four characters: a homosexual police inspector (Bouajila) who crosses paths with a doctor (Blanc), a writer (Béart) and an opera singer (Depardieu). The €6m production opens in France on March 7 through UGC , who are also handling world sales.

Rivette, who will celebrate his 80th birthday on March 1, will also make his second appearance in the Berlin competition after The Gang of Four, honoured with a Special Mention and the FIPRESCI Prize in 1989. Starring Jeanne Balibar, Guillaume Depardieu, Michel Piccoli and Bulle Ogier, Ne touchez pas la hache is an adaptation of the Honoré de Balzac novella The Duchess de Langeais and was scripted by the director and his regular partners, Pascal Bonitzer and Christine Laurent.

Set during the Restoration, when society was dominated by hypocrisy, the importance of appearances and money, the film follows the ups and downs of a doomed love story, with a blend of passion and revenge between General Montriveau (Depardieu) and the Duchesse de Langeais (Balibar).

The Pierre Grise production was funded through a co-production with Italy’s Cinemaundici; backing, pre-sales and a co-production with Arte France Cinéma; support from the Ile de France region; and €450,000 in advances on receipts from the CNC.

Ne touchez pas la hache hits French screens on March 21 through Les Films du Losange, who are also selling the title internationally.

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(Translated from French)

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