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French cartoon turns hip-hop

Movie based on cult TV series 'Les Lascars'

French suburban hip-hop culture is coming to the bigscreen in an all-star animated pic voiced by the likes Diam’s, France’s biggest-selling pop artist. Voice talents include Diane Krueger, mistress of ceremonies at this year’s Cannes, and Vincent Cassel.

The €10 million ($13.5 million) pic includes an American version, with such artists as L.A. rapper Fat Lip.

The French version, which includes improvised humor, is practically finished, and animation will begin this summer.

Pic will be distributed by Bac Films, subsid of producer Millimages, with coin from Canal Plus and pubcaster France 2, co-producing.

Movie is based on the cult TV series “Les Lascars” — which aired on MTV as “Round da Way.” The 30 x 1 min Gallic show was an instant hit when it aired on Canal Plus seven years ago, but has grown to become an Internet phenom, with pirated Arab and Creole-language versions, as well as the original French and English versions, popular on sites such as YouTube. Show was most watched program on Orange and SFR mobile phones last year, with more than 600,000 hits.

Another 30, 1-minute episodes recently wrapped, with Cassel and Diam’s voices and characters in some episodes.

Millimage has been trying to develop a 26-minute series and a movie for years, but concept seemed too edgy for French broadcasters. Now, though, French suburban culture has spread to the mainstream — Diam’s single “Confessions nocturenes” and album “Dans ma bulle” were France’s best-selling records last year — with Gallic kids who don’t come from the suburbs speaking in suburban slang, complete with the distinctive accent.

Personalities like Jamel, France’s leading stand-up comic and actor, have helped popularize suburban culture.

Pic is helmed by Albert Pereria Lazaro and co-directed by Emmanuel Klotz, from a screenplay by the same team that wrote the two series, Eldeablo, IZM Alexis Dolivet.

Along with Cassel, who plays Tony, IZM also plays one of the lead characters, Jose. The two are friends and petty criminals but one day, Jose falls for Kruger’s upmarket character Clemence and decides he wants to go straight. Diam’s plays Jose’s cousin, Jenny.

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