Variety surveys the French pics at Venice.IN COMPETITION
“Persecution,” Patrice Chereau (France)
Daniel’s relationship with Sonia veers from love to loathing, but he can’t live without her. The intrusion of a mysterious man threatens to tear them apart. Pic stars Romain Duris (“The Beat That My Heart Skipped”), Charlotte Gainsbourg (“Antichrist”) and Jean-Hugues Anglade (“Villa Amalia”).
“White Material,” Claire Denis (France)
In the 10th feature from Claire Denis, Isabelle Huppert stars as a woman who refuses to leave her plantations in Africa, despite the danger a rebellion poses. Christophe Lambert plays her ex-husband, who makes plans for their escape, but is as confused about the situation as his ex-wife.
Sales: Wild Bunch
“Mr. Nobody,” Jaco van Dormael (France)
Belgian helmer van Dormael (“Toto the Hero”) makes his English-language debut with this $58 million fantasy romance. Multi-strand, time-jumping pic centers on the world’s oldest living mortal (Jared Leto), who recalls his three parallel lives. Also stars Diane Kruger, Sarah Polley and Rhys Ifans.
Sales: ). Int’l Sales: Wild Bunch
“36 vues du Pic Saint Loup” (Around a Small Mountain) Jacques Rivette (France-Italy)
The first pic from New Wave vet Rivette to go to Venice, after multiple entries at Cannes and Berlin. When a circus owner dies, his daughter (Jane Birkin) gives up her life in Italy and rejoins the troupe, which intrigues an Italian man (Sergio Castellitto), who seeks to find out why she left the circus in the first place.
Sales: Les Films du Losange
“Lourdes,” Jessica Hausner (Austria/France/Germany)
Christine (Sylvie Testud), who is confined to a wheelchair, goes on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, where she finds a cure and wins the affections of a handsome volunteer (Bruno Todeschini). Austrian helmer Hausner’s previous pics, “Lovely Rita” and “Hotel,” both screened in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard.
Sales: Coproduction Office
“Women Without Men,” Shirin Neshat (Germany/Austria/France)
Set against the 1953 coup in Iran, Neshat’s debut — based on Shahrnush Parsipur’s magic-realist novel — centers on four women who seek independence and solace in an imaginary garden. Neshat has established a reputation as an innovative video artist, and won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1999.
Sales: Coproduction Office
“Dohawa” (Buried Secrets), Raja Amari (Tunisia-France)
Hafsia Herzi, who won a Cesar and a Venice prize for “The Secret of the Grain,” stars in this pic about two sisters and their mother whose reclusive existence in the servant’s quarters of a deserted house is upset by the arrival of a young couple. Tunisian helmer Amari won prizes at Montreal, Seattle and Turin for “Satin Rouge.”
“La Horde,” Yannick Dahan, Benjamin Rocher (France)
A group of corrupt Paris cops attack the hideout of gangsters who killed a fellow officer. The mobsters turn the tables on the police, but then the two sides have to join forces when a horde of bloodthirsty zombies attack.
Sales: Films Distribution
VENICE DAYS LINEUP
“Harragas,” Merzak Allouache (Algeria/France)
Latest pic from vet Algerian director Merzak Allouache, focuses on a group of illegal immigrants as they prepare to cross the Mediterranean in search of a better life in Europe.
Sales: Doc & Film Intl.
“I Am Happy That My Mother Is Alive,” Claude Miller and Nathan Miller (France)
Drama from the father (“A Secret”) and son team centers on 20-year-old Thomas (Vincent Rottiers), who was adopted when he was 4, along with his younger brother. When he seeks out his birth mother, he finds it fails to deliver the peace of mind he craves.
Sales: Orly Films.
“Qu’un seul tienne, et les autres suivront” (Silent Voices), Lea Fehner (France)
Debut pic from Lea Fehner, a graduate of Paris’ La Femis film school, looks at how the lives of visitors to a prison intertwine. Pic will be awarded the Prix Michel d’Ornano for a frosh Gallic pic at the Deauville Film Festival in September.