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PRODUCTION France

Huppert and Ulliel star in Un barrage contre le Pacifique

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Huppert and Ulliel star in Un barrage contre le Pacifique

Lensing on the fourth feature by well-known documentary director Rithy Panh, Un barrage contre le Pacifique (“A Dam against the Pacific”), began on Monday in Cambodia, the director’s native country.

Starring in this adaptation of the eponymous autobiographical novel by Marguerite Duras (published in 1950) are Isabelle Huppert, Gaspard Ulliel (Hannibal Rising [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
) and Astrid Berges-Frisbey.

Written by the director and Michel Fessler (March of the Penguins [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, Man to Man), the story is set in southern French Indochina during the 1920s.

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A widow (Huppert) lives in an isolated bungalow on a marshy plain with her two children – the violent Joseph (Ulliel, who had to put on 8 kilos for the role) and the attractive Suzanne (Berges-Frisbey).

After investing her life savings to buy un-farmable land invaded by Pacific waves each year, the mother has to brave all in the face of adversity and the power of nature, and tries to persuade her country’s corrupt government to construct a dam. The film depicts a desperate struggle to escape a miserable life that her children only dream of leaving behind.

Selected on several occasions at Cannes for his features (Rice People in competition, 1994 and One Evening After the War in the 1998 Un Certain Regard) and his documentaries (S-21: The Khmer Rouge Death Machine and Les artistes du théâtre brûlé out of competition in 2003 and 2005), Panh (43) was nominated this week for the upcoming European Film Awards in the documentary category for Le papier ne peut pas envelopper la braise.

Produced by Catherine Dussart (the director’s long-time partner) for CDP, Un barrage contre le Pacifique has received co-production and pre-sales support from France 2 Cinéma, Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC) advances on receipts (€500,000), pre-sales from Canal + and is being co-produced by Belgian outfit Scope Pictures.

The film is slated for a ten-and-a-half week shoot in Cambodia and France. With a possible Cannes selection in May, the film will open in France in August through Diaphana. International sales are being handled by Films Distribution.

(Translated from French)

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