Series adapts Pouy's Suite Noire stories

PARIS — French pubcaster France 2 and Franco-German culture channel Arte have teamed to co-finance 12 hourlong made-fors.

The anthology is produced by Paris-based production and sales shingle Agora Films, adapting author Jean-Bernard Pouy’s Suite Noire collection of short crime stories.

Budgeted at e1.5 million ($1.9 million) per pic, each is directed by up-and-coming French helmers.

“They look like B-movies with the aesthetic of comicbooks and the dark humor you find in Coen Brothers’ films,” says Agora producer Alain Guesnier, who collaborated with France 2’s artistic director Paule Zajdermann to develop the series.

Screenings of the first four films were a highlight of Gaul’s Intl. Festival of Audiovisual Programs (FIPA) which ran Jan. 20-25 in Biarritz.

The quartet included Laurent Bouhnik’s thriller “Vitrage a la corde” and Emmanuelle Bercot’s dark comedy “Tirez sur le caviste.”

Both helmers are new to TV. Bouhnik last directed “The Dinner Guest” starring Daniel Auteuil; Bercot last helmed “Backstage,” with Emmanuelle Seigner.

European buyers at FIPA expressed interest in the concept.

“This type of genre film is very popular right now and appeals to a wide audience,”┬ásays Stephanie von Lukowicz, founder and buyer for Spanish production-sales shingle Factotum Barcelona, whose film “La otra ciudad” was at FIPA.

Von Luckowitz says Factotum is interested in buying the format or collaborating with a French production company to develop a similar series, based on a detective novel.

Both the hourlong format and genre concept are a first for France 2.

The production initiative reflects a new mandate from the French government for pubcasters to invest in quality fiction as well as racial diversification.

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