French talent on fast track

Producers, directors, writer hits the bigscreen globally

Winner of the illustrious Lagardere Film Producer Grant, Bozorgan is not quite 30 and already has a major feature under her belt, with plenty others in the pipeline. She convinced multihyphenate Albert Dupontel (“Paris”) that she had the chops to produce “The Villain,” which scored 700,000 admissions late in 2009, and she’s currently co-producing Bertrand Blier’s “The Sound of Ice Cubes,” starring Dupontel and Jean Dujardin, and budgeted at more than 7 million ($10 million). “Numbers don’t scare me,” Bozorgan says.

After more than a decade writing TV pics, French-American scribe Carter leaped to the bigscreen in 2007, co-writing Claude Miller’s war drama “A Secret.” In just a few years, she’s become one of the rare French femme screenwriters working on high-profile, big-budget productions. “In France there is a tendency to make narcissistic films about trivial matters,” Carter says. “I like to broaden the focus and bring some lightness and impertinence into each story.” Her bicultural sensibility has allowed her to navigate between English-language psychological thrillers such as Jean-Paul Salome’s “The Chameleon,” starring Famke Janssen, and Gallic dramas like Nicole Garcia’s “A View of Love.” Latest project: Kristin Scott Thomas starrer “Une Femme parfaite,” a corporate-world thriller.

A former fashion photo­grapher and short films director, Cavaye made a much-buzzed-about directorial debut in 2008 with Diane Kruger starrer “Anything for Elle,” a suspenseful thriller. Pic not only earned a Cesar nom for first work, it also yielded a U.S. remake, “The Next Three Days,” directed by Paul Haggis with Liam Neeson and Olivia Wilde in the lead roles set for a 2011 release. Next up, Cavaye is helming the high-voltage crime drama “A bout portant,” which deals with rogue cops and a French gangster played by Roschdy Zem (“Go Fast”).

This writing duo first teamed up on Gallic news satire “Les Guignols de l’info” before co-writing blockbuster “Asterix at the Olympic Games.” They struck gold with 2008’s “Welcome to the Sticks” while penning “State Affairs” and “Day Off,” released in late 2009. Upcoming thriller “Imogene” will mark their helming debut, and 2002’s “Malefique” has been nabbed for remake by Paramount. “We want our films to be bigger than life,” the two explain, “though we never place ourselves above our characters.”

I’ve been gearing up for this my whole career,” claims f/x wiz-cum-director Charreyron. At 33, he finds himself at the helm of the $50 million “The Prodigies,” whose elaborate mix of motion capture and 3D animation makes it sound like a smaller-scale “Avatar.” Based on a dark, New York-set novel about seven adolescent geniuses on a bloody revenge quest, the pic’s been three years in the making and should hit screens in late 2010, with Warner Bros. distributing in Gaul.

With Jean Francois Richet’s “Public Enemy Number One” and Jacques Audiard’s “A Prophet” under his belt, Raouf Dafri has emerged as the hottest screenwriter of the French New Wave 2.0. He’s reinvented the Gallic gangster film genre, giving it a visceral energy and a poignant realism. Raouf Dafri says he pulls from his life experience and firsthand observations to craft his characters. “I enjoy depicting sociopaths and gangsters, but when I show violence, it always serves a purpose and makes you think — it’s never merely rock and roll.” Raouf Dafri is currently writing a script based on the infamous French gang of Aubervilliers and a TV drama skein, “Berlucci,” which follows a nightclub doorman who gains access to France’s political elite.

Gens belongs to a new breed of Gallic helmers aspiring to reach worldwide auds with English-language genre films. “For me, a good film is like a roller coaster,” Gens says. “It has to give you a rush of adrenaline.” The 35-year-old helmer burst into the international spotlight in 2007 with his first film, the gory “Frontier(s),” produced by Luc Besson. Shortly after that, Besson set him up on “Hitman,” a high-voltage actioner made for Fox studios. Since then, Gens has made his way into the U.S. indie scene. His projects include “The Fallout,” a New York-set futuristic thriller; and “Vanikoro,” about an 18-century French expedition that ended in cannibalism.

German-born produ­cer Lemercier moved to France at 18 and attended the prestigious film school La Femis before joining Paris-based Why Not Prods. Now 35, Lemercier produces most of the company’s English-language pics, including Ethan Hawke starrer “Assault on Precinct 13.” He’s currently working on Emmanuel Finkiel’s Michigan-set thriller “Un Oiseau blanc dans le blizzard,” based on Laura Kasischke’s novel. “The main pitfall to avoid is to try to import the American model,” Lemercier explains. “We can make French genre films that have an international appeal without having to replicate what’s been done in the U.S.”

Being a “fils de can have its pros and cons in the movie industry. But 28-year-old Rassam — son of late producer Jean-Pierre Rassam and actress Carole Bouquet — has leveraged his status to produce ambitious, pricey projects with international appeal: The 13 million ($18.6 million) kidpic “Trouble at Timpeltill,” released in 2008, and currently, the $50 million sci-fi romance “Upside Down,” starring Kirsten Dunst and due for 2011. “It’s not about the market, but the needs of a specific film,” he says.


When Sattouf’s gross-out teen comedy “The French Kissers” preemed at the 2009 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, the house roared with laughter and the pic was quickly dubbed the French “Superbad.” “Kissers” went on to reap critical acclaim and garnered a hefty 1.5 million local admissions in its French release. Along with colleagues Marjane Satrapi (“Persepolis”) and Joann Sfar (“Serge Gainsbourg (vie heroique)”), Sattouf reps a unique, recent Gallic phenomenon of independent comicbook artists making the successful move from drawing board to bigscreen.

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