WWII draws in Kassovitz

Helmer will direct animated film after 'Babylon'

Gallic helmer Mathieu Kassovitz will make his first animated film “The Beast,” which will deal with the Holocaust, on the heels of completing Vin Diesel starrer “Babylon AD.”

That pic will be followed by “The Cave,” a live-action film about a true incident in a far-flung French overseas territory. Kassovitz plans to put it into production next year.

Both will be produced via his indie shingle MNP, which also co-produced the Fox-backed “Babylon,” with Ilan Goldman’s Legende.

“The Beast” is based on a cartoon book that appeared during WWII in which the various nations that took part in the war were portrayed by different animals. Project is being co-scripted by Jean-Claude Carriere.

MNP is working with Gallic f/x house Buff on a new technique combining 3-D animation characters with natural settings; a one-minute pilot is in the works that should be ready by the end of the year, Kassovitz said.

“Children of five will be able to see the film and it will inform their understanding of World War II when they are 15 and learning about it at school,” the helmer said.

“The Cave” is based on a true story in which 17 people were killed when French commandoes freed 23 hostages in the South Pacific territory of New Caledonia in 1988. Twenty-two gendarmes had been held in a cave for more than a week by Melanisian separatists.

“It is an episode that has been brushed over, forgotten about,” said Kassovitz.

Project has been co-developed with Studio Canal.

Kassovitz and his business partner and fellow producer Benoit Jaubert set up MNP three years ago. Company had a pic in official selection last year, the experimental French film “Avida.”

Two films are currently in the works. Forst is the Gaumont-backed comedy “Les Deux Mondes,” which stars Benoit Poelvoorde as an average guy who gets transported into a parallel world in which he is taken for the saviour of an oppressed tribe.

Helmed by Daniel Cohen and shot in South Africa and France earlier this year, pic is slated for a wide release in France Oct. 31 on 450 prints.

Kassovitz is hoping that MNP’s second project, “Johnny Mad Dog,” could be in Cannes next year. Pic by documaker Jean-Stephane Sauvaire is a feature film about child soldiers in an unspecified war-torn African country, which shot recently in Liberia.

Cast of unknowns includes some youths who were child soldiers in Liberia’s civil war.

Pic is being distributed in France by TFM and sold internationally by TF1 Intl.

On the Croisette Thursday, fresh from the arduous shoot of “Babylon,” Kassovitz spoke publicly for the first time about Nicholas Sarkozy’s presidential victory in France.

“I’m worried, I think his election is very bad thing for France,” Kassovitz said. “We are losing our French identity and becoming more like the Republicans.”

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