Black comedy centers on lawyer tempted by crime

PARIS — Gallic mini-major Bac Films has taken French rights to crime comedy “Borderline,” the next production from Gaul’s Quad Films.

Quad leapt to prominence teaming last year with Focus Features Intl. to produce romantic comedy “Heartbreaker,” with Romain Duris and Vanessa Paradis. Sold by Kinology, the pic proved a runaway hit at January’s Unifrance Paris Rendez-Vous.

Bac Films Intl. has also taken foreign rights outside France to “Borderline.”

The pic turns on an honest but lowflying suburban lawyer, who stumbles across a suitcase of cocaine and a cell phone with non-stop calls from eager clients.

Co-produced by France’s Chaocorp, pic is the feature film debut of France’s Alexandre Coffre, who wrote the screenplay.

French-language “Borderline” is based on Matthew Kneale’s short story “Powder.” The film transfers the action from London to Paris and gives it a slightly lighter tone.

“We just kept the pitch of the short story. The film’s more like a Coen brothers comedy, but not as dark as ‘Fargo,’ ” Quad producer Yann Zenou said.

Francois Damiens (“Little Nicholas”) plays the lawyer, Pascale Arbillot (“Let It Rain”) his lovely wife, Gilles Cohen (“A Prophet”) a drug gang honcho.

Pic is produced by Nicolas Duval-Adassovsky, Bruno Chiche and Zenou for Quad.

“Borderline” has pulled down prebuys from France-based paybox Canal Plus and TPS, and Euros 445,000 ($628,340) from the Ile de France regional film fund. Quad puts the budget at $5.2 million. Pic rolled Jan. 2.

Bac’s Berlin sales slate includes Isabelle Czajka’s twentysomething drama “Living on Love Alone,” Jesper Moller and Sinem Sakaoglu’s stop motion pic “The Sandman,” a big Christmas 2010 release in France, which is co-produced by Bac parent Millimages, and femme-skewed “Hidden Diary.”

Directed by Julie Lopes-Curval, a Cannes Golden Camera-winner in 2002 for “Seaside,” women’s story “Diary” stars Catherine Deneuve, Marie-Josee Croze and Marina Hands (“Lady Chatterley”). It grossed $1.4 million in France from a 142-print release.

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