Alain Attal, producer
Attal produced Guillaume Canet’s thriller “Tell No One” (Ne le dis a personne), which won five Cesars and was one of the few French films of 2006 that impressed both audiences and critics. Attal and Canet have worked together five times in the last seven years, and it seems to be a winning partnership. Attal plans on working with Canet again, but there is no concrete project scheduled yet.
What’s next: “Pur week-end,” a comedy starring Kad Merad, Bruno Solo and Valerie Benguigui, about a group of friends, one of whom is an escaped prisoner.
Alice Taglioni, actress
Among French cinema’s younger generation, conventional beauties are in short supply, but blonde and leggy Alice Taglioni is the real deal, which explains why producers of mainstream French fare are queuing up to sign her. Since her standout performance in Francis Veber’s “The Valet,” Taglioni’s been working nonstop.
What’s next: Currently shooting “Notre univers impitoyable,” Taglioni will segue straight into “Cash,” a big-budget actioner with Jean Reno and Jean Dujardin, which was slated to begin lensing early May. Latter pic is produced by former Gaumont topper Patrice Ledoux with TF1 Intl. financing.
Arie Elmaleh, actor
This Moroccan-Jewish comic blends the warmth of his beloved (and for the moment, more famous) brother Gad with a wilier edge. He’s also shown hints of real range: His comic performance as a ne’er-do-well posing as a middle school teacher in “L’Ecole pour tous” got him a most promising actor nom at the Cesars; a few months later, Elmaleh scored solid reviews from Parisian legit critics for his perf in “Irresistible,” about a young couple coming undone, co-starring Virginie Ledoyen.
What’s next: Noemie Lvovsky’s family dramedy “L’Ami de Fred Astaire,” in which Elmaleh joins an ensemble featuring Sabine Azema and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi.
Deborah Francois, actress
This apple-cheeked Belgian blonde may look wholesome, but a pair of fearless performances — one as a desperate teenage mother in “The Child,” the other as a serene sociopath in “The Page Turner” — has given Francois an edge of arthouse credibility. The two roles earned her consecutive most promising actress Cesar nominations.
What’s next: “Red Ants,” a dark father-daughter drama co-starring Frederic Pierrot; Jean-Paul Salome’s “Les Femmes de l’ombre,” with Sophie Marceau and Julie Depardieu.
Marina Hands, actress
If there’s a French thesp of the moment, it’s Hands, whose turn in Pascale Ferran’s “Lady Chatterley” adaptation snagged her an actress Cesar. A member of the prestigious Comedie Francaise since 2006, Hands also is fluent in English (her father is British stage director Terry Hands), giving her “double threat” potential for the Anglophone film market.
What’s next: “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” Julian Schnabel’s Cannes Competition player, and Pascal Bonitzer’s Agatha Christie adaptation “Le Grand alibi.”
Melanie Laurent, actress
She has all the physical makings of an ethereal French beauty, but her tough, unsentimental performance as a depressed teen in Philippe Lioret’s “Don’t Worry, I’m Fine” proved she was more than an ingenue du jour and earned her a most promising actress Cesar.
What’s next: A slew of high-profile projects, including Alessandro Capone’s “L’Amour cache” and Cedric Klapisch’s “Paris,” with Juliette Binoche and Romain Duris.
Aissa Maiga, actress
Maiga (“Paris, je t’aime,” “Bamako,” “Don’t Worry, I’m Fine,” “I Do”) is a very busy young actress of color (she is of Senegalese-Malian-Gambian descent) in a national industry dominated by white faces. She’s proved herself to be a versatile thesp, able to float easily between comic, dramatic and romantic registers. Her moving performance in “Bamako” garnered her a most promising actress Cesar nomination.
What’s next: Raphael Fejto’s rom com “L’Age d’homme,” with Romain Duris.
Vincent Rottiers, actor
Ever since his breakout performance as a wayward adolescent alongside Vanessa Paradis in “Mon ange,” Rottiers has been keeping stellar professional company: Agnes Jaoui, Julie Depardieu and Gerard Jugnot, among others. Recent projects include “L’Ile aux tresors” and “Le Passager” (The Passenger). He’s got sullen, almost haunted good looks, but it’s his sensitivity and natural quality onscreen that got him a most promising actor Cesar nod.
What’s next: “L’Ennemi intime,” a French-Algerian war drama directed by Florent Siri (“Hostage”) and co-starring Benoit Magimel and Albert Dupontel.